Ron Paul on the Crest of South Carolina


The world seems to agree Newt Gingrich is poised to take that momentum of coming in fourth in Iowa and New Hampshire to the toppermost of the poppermost in South Carolina (his 10-point polling gain the past week in that state a mystery too hideous for me to want to contemplate), even as Gingrich is canceling appearances there from lack of attendance at the same location Paul draws 1,000.

We'll see today if Gingrich's miracle is real, and we'll find out at the end of the month if his generally underfunded campaign has the cash to capitalize on it (though he did get over $3 million in ad buys in the state from his Sheldon Adelson-funded SuperPAC).

But on the morn of the first day of the rest of campaign 2012, some Paul tidbits:

*Daily Paul documents what it sees as media attempts to more or less pretend Ron Paul wasn't at the last debate. (I watched various Fox analysts last night handicapping what might happen today, including predictions that the polling-fourth Santorum might come in second, that didn't mention Paul was in the race at all.)

*The official Paul campaign hasn't fought very hard for this state, only opening an official office there last week, with most on-the-ground efforts being coordinated, in typical Paul fan style, by the grassroots, Details on their efforts from Washington Examiner:

Everything about Charleston for Ron Paul is volunteer-led and donation-based. Donations from supporters pay for water, electricity, refreshments and campaign materials. Sometimes, members of the group receive leftover materials from official Paul offices in other states, but the majority of the yard signs, bumper stickers, buttons, literature, Paul DVDs and pocket constitutions they pass out are purchased online from the official campaign store…..

Charleston for Ron Paul prefers the official Paul campaign to stay unaffiliated. And the Paul fans have done such an effective job of spreading the word about their organization that dozens of people were standing outside in line for signs last night, [Charleston for Ron Paul leader James] Tredmentozzi said. Mid afternoon today eight volunteers were at the office putting together yard signs and making Get Out The Vote Calls – the same number of volunteers who were making calls at Mitt Romney's official Charleston office today at approximately the same time.

Likewise, Charleston for Ron Paul's rogue status hasn't stopped it from getting access to resources necessary to run a competitive campaign here. Under Tredmentozzi's guidance, the group purchased voter lists and identified potential supporters and donors by pulling public FEC records of previous Paul donors in South Carolina.

"Who from Mitt Romney's campaign is doing that? Who from Rick Santorum's campaign is doing that? Who from Newt Gingrich's campaign is doing that? Nobody, yet [Ron Paul's] not getting the time of day," [activist Wilton] Elder said.

*At Slate, Dave Weigel reports that signs in public and bodies at rallies in South Carolina indicate Paul will not do nearly as well there as he did in Iowa and New Hampshire.

*CNN on Paul campaign strategy moving forward, where another big southern state, Florida, will also not get much official attention.

*Looking ahead, the campaign announces big ad buys in Minnesota and Nevada.

*ABC on Paul's Minnesota strategy:

Paul's campaign today announced a "substantial" purchase of airtime in the mostly ignored caucus state of Minnesota, the site of Paul's 2008 counter-convention as Sen. John McCain received the GOP nomination. The purchase is another installment in Paul's plan to seize caucus states where other candidates haven't campaigned, and it follows airtime purchases for four separate TV ads in Nevada, announced in October.

Paul has already spent money on direct mail in the caucus states of Nevada, Maine, Colorado, North Dakota and Washington, as well as Louisiana, ABC's Jonathan Karl reported this month.

The ad promotes Paul's rebel image as a slasher of government agencies who will stand up for his views, unlike other politicians, who wimp out "like little Shih Tzus."

The ad is slickly produced and, thanks to an electric-guitar soundtrack and a deep-voiced narrator, it sounds like a promo spot for classic-rock radio, or a TV commercial for a monster-truck rally. Government agencies explode-evaporate onscreen. The words "Later, bureaucrats. That's how Ron Paul rolls" are spoken.

Minnesota won't hold its caucuses until Feb. 7, after South Carolina, Florida and Nevada have voted. So why is Paul buying ads there already, when other candidates are laying groundwork in the earlier states?

Paul's is the only campaign that is overtly as concerned with delegates and long-term gains as it is with early-state wins and popular momentum. Like Barack Obama in 2008, Paul's strength lies in dedicated followers who know the rules and can organize at caucuses and the county, congressional-district, and state conventions where caucus states will select their delegates to the August Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

"Ours is the only campaign with the resources, organization and stamina to defeat establishment candidate Mitt Romney in a 50-state race," Campaign Manager Jesse Benton said.

Fresh off a $13-million quarter of fundraising, Benton might be right. As early states go, Paul's campaign is betting on Nevada, ABC's Jason Volack reported this week

*The Boston Globe on Paul's support from active-duty military.

*Jon Basil Utley in the American Conservative on how when it comes to Paul evangelicals love war more than they care about social conservatism.

*TV's right-wing talk show parody Stephen Colbert, who polls more favorably than all the candidates, tells Morning Joe (after a Rumplestiltskin and Herman Cain joke or two) he "really likes Ron Paul," for what it's worth:

Reason's Ron Paul archives. My forthcoming book, Ron Paul's Revolution.