Presidential candidate Ron Paul is gearing up for a big September on the campaign trail.
The longtime libertarian raised $1.8 million to mark his 76th birthday last weekend, a key member of his campaign staff told me, and this demonstrates the intensity of his support. His aides call it a "money bomb." [See photos of Bachmann on the campaign trail.]
"It really is a movement," says Doug Wead, a senior adviser to Paul. Wead says Paul is doing well in Iowa and New Hampshire, which hold the first delegate-selection contests next year. And Paul expects that strong performances in various debates scheduled for September will strengthen his position even more.
Paul, a longtime Republican representative from Texas, recently finished a close second in the Iowa straw poll of GOP presidential preference. A Gallup poll released this morning finds that Paul is in a statistical tie with President Obama, 45 to cent to 47 per cent. (Three other GOP hopefuls also are in a statistical tie with Obama--former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Representative Michele Bachmann.) But Paul supporters have complained that he hasn't been getting the media attention he deserves. For more on Ron Paul's lament, see my blog. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP candidates.]
Paul has run for president before but he is making more headway this time because "the people are moving toward him" on a number of issues, Wead says, such as his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his support for slashing federal spending.
Another factor in Paul's favor, according to strategists close to him, is that his son Rand, a freshman Republican senator from Kentucky, is expected to carry his father's libertarian banner in the future. This is giving the Paul movement a longer-term dimension. [Read Kim's Is Ron Paul a Fringe Candidate?]
Ron Paul has won many admirers for his blunt style and his strong principles, says Wead, who is a former White House adviser to President George H.W. Bush.