So first we have an interview from the Columbia Tribune, a paper from my alma mater Mizzou.
Paul explains pretty succinctly why he thinks he’s gaining traction online:
Q: Your presence on the Internet has been a prime topic of conversation. YouÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re a 71-year-old physician from Texas, but on one site youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve become a more searched-for name than Paris Hilton. How did that come about?
A: I think the ideas of liberty are very young historically. It really had a burst of enthusiasm with our revolution. If you look at all of history, the notion that government should be minimal in size and that individuals should rule their own lives – itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a real modern idea. And I think young people just naturally go in that direction. What theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re realizing is that theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re being delivered a horrendous deal and a lot of obligations. And all of a sudden, when they hear someone say something what theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve been thinking about, I think they respond very favorably. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m really happy about it. So I think the age of the individual delivering the message is irrelevant if the message is young and exciting. In contrast, the ideas of big government and controlling other peopleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s lives and invading other countries – thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s been around for thousands of years. And itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s old and ancient, and it fails. And young people are more idealistic, and I think thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s one of the reasons they are looking at our campaign really carefully.
Well put and well positioned. He’s the “sincere” politician, and what’s more is he has the record to back it up. Look for more of that in the coming months.
And then we have this from the Wash Post:
On Technorati, which offers a real-time glimpse of the blogosphere, the most frequently searched term this week was “YouTube.”
Then comes “Ron Paul.”
The presence of the obscure Republican congressman from Texas on a list that includes terms such as “Sopranos,” “Paris Hilton” and “iPhone” is a sign of the online buzz building around the long-shot Republican presidential hopeful — even as mainstream political pundits have written him off.
Rep. Ron Paul is more popular on Facebook than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He’s got more friends on MySpace than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. His MeetUp groups, with 11,924 members in 279 cities, are the biggest in the Republican field. And his official YouTube videos, including clips of his three debate appearances, have been viewed nearly 1.1 million times — more than those of any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, except Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
Actually, those numbers for Meetups are now 12,572 members in 293 cities, but I digress…
However, I think this could be the most telling paragraph about Paul’s popularity…
“At first I was skeptical of his increasing online presence, thinking that it’s probably just a small cadre of dedicated Ron Paul fans,” said Matt Lewis, a blogger and director of operations at Townhall, a popular conservative site. “But if you think about it, the number one issue in the country today is Iraq. If you’re a conservative who supports the president’s war, you have nine candidates to choose from. But if you’re a conservative who believes that going into Iraq was a mistake, Ron Paul is the only game in town.”
Hmmm, sounds very familiar…almost like we’re back in 2004 and a certain dark horse is speaking out against the war when others weren’t…
And by the way, not one mention of Howard Dean in either article.
But this blog post from Reason discusses Paul’s crossover appeal to Dems and the obvious tie to Dean…
ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s no coincidence that meetup.com made its first big political splash for a Democrat, Dean. Conceptually, the meetup model fits well with a certain story that Democrats like to tell about themselvesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬?all cutting edge and grassroots and people power, the sort of things a party that was, until 2006, largely out of federal power needs to court and cultivate.
That thought, and my experience at a meetup-generated Paul supporters meeting this week in Pasadena, made me wonder about PaulÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s potential to appeal to disaffected Democrats.
The meeting, which I stumbled into by accident (I hadnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t signed up for PaulÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s meetup group myself and was unaware it was happening), had, even two and a half hours after its official beginning, a good 75 people filling the room. Attendees told me more than 100 were there at peakÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬?which I found quite impressive, but the Paul rally coordinator I spoke to seemed disappointed. There were more people under the age of 30 in this room then I saw at the national convention of the Libertarian Party in Portland in 2006.
When I asked one former Democrat at this gathering, who told me he got excited by Paul during the first televised GOP debates, whether he was a common phenomenon, both he and another supporter (who came to Ron from the hard money side) shook their heads wonderingly as if IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢d asked them something as ridiculous and obvious as if Ron Paul believes in the Constitution; itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a constant phenomenon, they insist. The hard money guy, who likes to wear his nifty ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œRon Paul RevolutionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? t-shirt (with the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œevolÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? in revolution laid out to make the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œloveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? backwards part stand out), says heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s constantly approached by interested civilians, many of them Democrats, excited and eager to know more.
So will Paul be the unity candidate?