The rise of Ron Paul gives GOP pause for concern, can he really win?
By M&C US News Nov 13, 2007, 15:31 GMT
Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) speaks during a debate of Republican presidential candidates at Morgan State University, a historically black university, 27 September, 2007 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. The top four Republican presidential candidates, Arizona Senator John McCain, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson did not attend the debate to be aired live on PBS, citing scheduling conflicts. EPA/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI
The greatest upsets and surprises in life are always unscripted, unexpected, and driven by a desire for change from the status quo.
GOP candidate Dr. Ron Paul was born and raised outside Pittsburgh, went Dormont High School where he met Carol Wells, the daughter of a well-to-do coffee broker. They married, had five children, 18 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
The Pauls celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year.
Nothing could define or predict the snowballing campaign of Doctor Ron Paul, now a Texas congressman who would do away with the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve Bank.
Paul would eliminate Medicare or Medicaid. US membership in the United Nations and NATO. He would end federal drug laws. The U.S. troops in Iraq or anywhere else on foreign soil would be ordered home.
The Internal Revenue Service would be dismantled, too.
Paul supporters think he is dead-on, and the clearest voice at the Republican debates and perhaps in all of Congress.
Paul attracts a wide swath of supporters, those who deeply distrust the federal government in its present form and want Paul's drastic reforms.
Guy Fawkes Day on Nov. 5 had a one day raise of $4.2 million - mostly online - in 24 hours, getting him close to his $12 million goal for the fourth quarter.
He is the star of the GOP for fund raising by far.
Hammering home a singular message of freedom, free markets, smaller federal government and greater personal responsibility, Paul eschews typical canned politician speak, and is earnest, pleasant, and is not a schmoozy baby-kissing charmer.
Politically Paul has always upheld the Constitution, if it is not explicitly authorized in the document, Paul opposes it.
Paul wants the money to go to state-based safety nets for those Americans who can't help themselves and for those depending on Social Security - which eventually he would phase out.
States should deal with issues such as abortion and the nature of marriage, he says.
Fiscally conservative, Paul would love an America that returns to a gold standard, yet he would be happy just to see the country stop taking on huge foreign debt and running up deficits by printing money for which it has no solid backing.
Paul is a rare congressman who refuses a Congressional pension because he considers the use of taxpayer money in this fashion an abuse of power. For the same reason, he never accepted taxpayer-funded Medicare or Medicaid in his practice, nor did he allow his children to take federal loans for college.
When President Richard Nixon effectively severed the U.S. dollar from the gold standard in 1971, Paul has said that was what compelled him into a life of politics.
Paul spoke of his appeal to the students of the US: "They don't trust government. Government has been messing things up. And they respond favorably to not worrying about paying income tax and getting out of Social Security."
Ron Paul is the only GOP candidate unequivocally opposed to the Iraq war and was the only Republican representative who did not vote in support of it. Paul defends what critics call his "isolationist" foreign policy, "...you can be conservative and pro-truth and pro-American and pro-Constitution and not want to go to war for needless purposes. They've been made to feel ... that if you don't support all these invasions and all this fighting, somehow you're anti-American."
Paul's direct approach, his lack of political gloss and phony sound bites is resonating with a population fed up with year of corrupt politicians paying back their big corporate donors with laws that favor them and allow them to earn billions unfettered by taxes, or competition in bids.
Whether you agree or not, his honesty in expressing opinions would make most pols go running for their mama's skirts, yet it is working for the polemic Paul.
He wants to see gun control and censorship of pornography, marijuana and prostitution decriminalized.
Unlike Howard Dean, the more serious Paul does not revel in his personal appearances; he is adamant that you listen to his wishes for a reformed US government.
You won't be hearing Paul go "Whooo" in an awkward moment the way Dean let loose before imploding his own campaign.
"What people are afraid of is Paul will never leave" the race for the White House, said Robert Stein, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston and a longtime Paul watcher to Lisa Anderson, a Baltimore Sun reporter who has been covering Paul in mainstream media. "You have to know Ron Paul as I do. This guy just keeps on ticking."
Anderson spoke with Teresa Petersen, who recalled Ron Paul. Mother of a child with autism, Petersen went to see Paul in a district office to persuade him to oppose the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Improvement in Education Act. Many parent groups at the time contended that proposed changes in the act weakened educational opportunities for disabled children.
"He was just a really nice man. He was very easy to talk to," recalled Petersen, 45, who is a full-time student at Brazosport College. "He was very aware of the issue," she said, adding "He did end up voting 'no' on that.