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Ron Paul thinks now is the time to make his move

October 21, 2011|By Kim Geiger | Washington Bureau
(Steve Marcus / Reuters )

Fresh off a $2 million-plus fundraising day, Ron Paul is planning an advertising blitz in four early voting states in an effort to build momentum for his 2012 presidential bid.

The Texas congressman is a longshot for the GOP nomination. Paul's support in the polls has hovered in the single digits and low teens for the entire campaign. But he’s managed to draw heavily on grassroots fundraising, making him the third-ranking fundraiser in the GOP field.

Paul's campaign thinks now is the time to spend big.

The strategy, according to spokesman Jesse Benton, is to get on the airwaves now, while they’re quiet.

"We also think other candidates aren’t going [on the air] right now," Benton said. "There’s going to be a certain din toward the end where you’re going to have outside expenditures – it’s going to be a little harder to get the message heard."

Paul will be the first of the GOP presidential candidates to come out with a major ad campaign. He’ll spend more than $2 million over the next four weeks, much of it on television advertising. The ads will air in Iowa and New Hampshire as well as South Carolina and Nevada. (Videos below.)

One ad calls Paul “a visionary who predicted the financial crisis.” Another warns that “America is in trouble,” and casts Paul as the only consistent candidate in the race.

Paul has run for president twice before – as a Libertarian in 1988 and as a Republican in 2008 – and has generally been dismissed as a fringe candidate. But if there was ever a time that Paul’s message might gain traction, now seems to be it, as voters appear dissatisfied with the political establishment and the weak GOP primary field.

On Monday, Paul unveiled his “Plan to Restore America,” which would, among other things, cut $1 trillion from the federal government in one year, eliminate five cabinet departments, and lower the corporate tax rate to 15%. As a symbolic gesture, the plan cuts the president’s salary from $400,000 to $39,336, the average median income of an American worker.

“I think our debt is too big, our government is too big and that we have to recognize how serious the problem is,” Paul said Tuesday as he discussed the plan during a speech in Las Vegas.

Paul is known for his libertarian leanings and is considered the "intellectual grandfather" of the tea party movement. His relentless calls to shrink the federal government and reduce American military activities abroad have won him enthusiastic support from followers whom he calls on regularly with online fundraising appeals called "moneybombs."

Paul's presidential campaign reported raising $12.7 million through the end of the third financial quater of the year, and closed the quarter with $3.6 million cash on hand. In the 20 days since, the campaign raised more than $3 million, Benton said, including more than $2 million off a "moneybomb” earlier this week.

Paul is not pulling in large-dollar donations – just 300 people have given him the maximum of $2,500 this year.  But he's also not appealing to the types who write big checks. On average, Paul’s 110,000 contributors – that’s the largest donor base of any GOP presidential candidate -- have given about $110 each, Benton said. kim.geiger@latimes.com

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