Ron Paul: an absolute faith in free markets and less government
The 10-term congressman from Texas has been a strict constitutionalist since he came into public life some 30 years ago.
(Page 4 of 4)
At a recent town meeting in Conway, N.H., one audience member said he supported most of Paul's positions, but wondered whether government wasn't needed after all in the cases of monster storms, such as hurricane Katrina. Paul cited the case of the 1900 hurricane in Galveston, which he said rebuilt significantly without help from Washington.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Some libertarian critics also complain that his opposition to abortion rights for women violates libertarian principles of choice. In an interview, Paul says that he came to his views on abortion in part from his experience delivering babies. "From the very beginning, I had a moral and legal obligation to take care of two people, the mother and the child, and if I did anything wrong, I realized that I could be sued for it," he said. "That had an impact on me."
He recalls witnessing an illegal abortion in his first year out of medical school that made an impression, too. "Once I became more firmly entrenched with libertarian beliefs, I realized that another life was involved, I saw this as a principle of nonaggression, which libertarians adhere to. The baby has a choice, too."
For some Washington-based libertarians, Paul's success on the campaign trail is puzzling. "Because Ron Paul is personally a very traditional man, a small town guy, his libertarianism is embedded in a lot more traditionalism that you find in many libertarians," who bristle at his stance on abortion, for example, says Brian Doherty, senior editor at Reason Magazine, the leading libertarian political and cultural journal. "But many financial analysts, who are disproportionate fans of the Paul campaign, say that in their world, the stuff that might strike a normal American as kooky, such as restoring the gold standard, does not strike them as kooky, especially given how the dollar's value is plummeting. There isn't a single other candidate out there talking about their world in an interesting way – or at all," he adds.
A surge of grass-roots support
When Paul first ran for president as the Libertarian Party candidate in 1988, he won 0.54 percent of the vote. In his second presidential bid, he's on track to do better.
While Paul still polls only in single digits nationally and in early primary states, his supporters have raised more than $19 million since October, including a record $6.2 million on one day, Dec. 16. This unofficial, grass-roots campaign is out-organizing all other campaigns over the Internet and recently launched a Ron Paul blimp.
"I'm not surprised that the views are popular, but I'm surprised to the extent that people have rallied and gotten spontaneously involved and done so much in fundraising and campaign events," Paul said in a Monitor interview.
Paul says his campaign is still working out what to do with the last quarter's surge of campaign contributions. "It's a real job figuring out what to do with it," he says. "We're going to budget it out. It just means it's a lot easier planning for super-Tuesday [on Feb. 5], when we have money in the bank."
Some experts say polls may be undercounting Paul's support, because so many of his backers haven't voted in the past and use cellphones rather than the landlines, which pollsters use. That's why Paul "is likely to do better on election day than polls say he might," said Fergus Cullen, chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party in an interview for C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" on Sunday.