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Why Ron Paul is still in the presidential race

Recent delegate counts show that Ron Paul is picking up a part of the anti-Romney protest vote, and he remains popular among young voters, but it's unclear if that will amount to anything. 

By Staff writer / April 16, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R) of Texas gives a thumbs up to his supporters while leaving the stage at a town hall meeting at Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday.

Lara Solt/The Dallas Morning News/AP

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There are a number of compelling reasons why Ron Paul might want to drop his presidential campaign.

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First off, Mitt Romney has pretty much won the GOP nomination. That means the single-digit chance Congressman Paul had of sitting in the White House has now fallen to a number perilously close to zero.

Second, the trail is long, and the days are hard. Food is bad and sleep is limited. It can be tough to find the time to get in a good walk in the morning and an afternoon bike ride, as Paul likes to do.

“When I don’t get my adequate amount of exercise I get very grouchy,” admitted Paul last week during an interview with John Stossel on Fox Business News.

But Paul remains in it, if not to win it, then to promote his ideas. He’s long said that he wants to build a political movement as much as anything else, and if you look at his upcoming events, they remain heavy on appearances at colleges, which remain his most fertile ground for winning converts.

On April 18 Paul is scheduled to speak at the University of Rhode Island, for instance. On April 19 he’s supposed to be at Cornell. On April 20 the venue is the University of Pittsburgh.

This emphasis on youth points out one of Paul’s remaining electoral strengths – he’s relatively strong in the 18-to-34 demographic, while presumptive nominee Mr. Romney is relatively weak. A Gallup poll from April 12 shows them about tied in that sub-group, though Romney leads comfortably among GOP voters overall.

This could give Paul some leverage in regard to speaking spots and platform planks leading into the GOP National Convention in Tampa.

“Romney has a significant problem among younger Republican voters ... Romney’s challenge is to capture some of the enthusiasm young Republican voters have for Paul in an attempt to blunt Obama’s strength among this group,” wrote Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport last week.

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