Posted by Rojas @ 5:39 pm on May 5th 2011

Republican debate liveblog

Santorum/Cain vs. Paul/Johnson…if there’s a better way to encapsulate the war for the soul of the Republican Party, I don’t know what it would be. Yeah, I know, they’re all supposed to be independent agents, and that “Pawlenty” guy will be in there straddling the line, but let’s not fool ourselves. It’s Libertarians vs. ChristCons!

Comments thread for live commentary. Jump on in.

Posted by Brad @ 9:22 am on April 28th 2011

Ron Paul on Abortion

Interesting excerpt from his book Liberty Defined. For our social liberal friends, it’s probably at least worth reading his argument on the issue – which is much more thoughtful and in depth than most any politician on either side – before immediately dismissing him as a Christianist fascist. I happen to still disagree with him, but, again, it’s worth reading.

H/T: Reason, who have a similar take.

Posted by Brad @ 12:56 pm on April 26th 2011

Why Ron’s Running

I’d been perplexed as to why Ron Paul might run given the likely (now certain) entry of Gary Johnson, an almost tailor-made torch-bearer for the movement that Paul created. It seems not only like a dick move, and an uncharacteristically self-aggrandizing one, but also as perhaps a counter-productive one if your ultimate end is the mainstreaming of a movement and the popularizing/normalizing of an ideology. I don’t begrudge him running, precisely – even though, although there are certainly positives to have two libertarian candidates in the Republican field, the prospect of extra debate time doesn’t, to me, outweigh the problem of essentially knee-capping the possibility of either campaign consolidating small-l libertarian voters to the extent that they would then be able to reach out to “the middle”. There isn’t, by the numbers, a large enough contingent of hardcore small-l libertarian voters to themselves carry a candidate to anywhere but respectable fundraising totals, quasi-celebrity, and maybe some okay also-run vote totals when it’s all said and done that never approached anywhere near a level that would actually threaten the first tier candidates and move the candidate into a realm of “contender” that would REALLY begin normalizing thier ideas. And so to me the job of the small-l candidate this cycle would be to shore up Ron’s voters in the previous campaign, to keep those people in the bag, and then quickly move beyond. Instead, I think Ron’s decision forecloses on that possibility, as the challenge for both Paul and Johnson now will be to merely win a decisive amount of Ron’s supporters from the LAST campaign.

And if you want a few previews of how that might go in the trenches, remember all those Reason-LewRockwell flamewars from the last Paul campaign indicated or the problems created when Ron’s endorsement press conference – wherein he endorsed “anybody but the main two party candidates” rather than any one specifically, creating widespread resentment and virtually ensuring that his voters would dissipate for the cycle rather than get behind any general election candidate? My guess is the Paul-Johnson split winds up darn near 50-50 (although adjusted for Ron’s relative celebrity it might go closer to 75-25), and I also guess it’s probably going to be a bit more contentious than we’d like to think (though not from the candidates themselves, I’d imagine).

To put it another way, instead of seeing Ron’s ideas go mainstream – instead of liberty-inclined voters getting behind a candidate and following them towards a new level of respectability and a new place at the Republican table – I fear we now get to be treated to the inner fissures of the liberty movement (and the incumbent purity dick-size competitions) that LP voters regularly get to enjoy. So much energy is going to be wasted on small-l voters trying to decide which candidate to back, and the candidates’ teams trying to render contrasts (and Jack, here, at last, is where Ron’s relative right-wingness on things like abortion and immigration is going to finally be live), that I think it’s going to essentially nullify any possibility for momentum for either candidate to get BEYOND the already built-in (thanks to 2008) liberty base.

Point being, I think Ron’s decision here is, as far as the liberty movement is concerned, an inherently limiting, rather than expansive, move. But, in pondering this, I now think that that’s part of the point. To wit the most germane question might be, presuming again that Ron isn’t merely out for self-aggrandizement (which I think he is almost incapable of doing): Cui bono?


Posted by Cameron @ 12:02 am on April 26th 2011

Third time’s the charm?

Somehow I’m not too optimistic, nevertheless, Ron Paul is in.

Posted by Brad @ 7:04 pm on April 20th 2011

Don’t Run, Ron

David Weigel explains why Gary Johnson hasn’t yet gotten the attention he deserves, and probably won’t.

Posted by Rojas @ 5:23 pm on February 13th 2011

I wonder who won the CPAC Straw Poll?

You know, it’s odd. I’ve been following professional coverage of CPAC for the better part of a decade, and I seem to recall that, in every previous year, the straw poll conducted at the end of the event was treated by the media as the big story.

Something must have changed, because I am pretty certain that the straw poll was conducted yesterday, and I’m reviewing all sorts of post-CPAC headlines, and somehow, none of them trumpet the straw poll result or, in most cases, even mention that there was such a poll.

No doubt this is a sign of the increasing maturity of our political media, who have moved beyond the frippery of “horse race” coverage in order to cover the more fundamental aspects of the story.

And this being the case, we can expect to see the same standard upheld for subsequent events of the same type, with polling treated as an afterthought rather than as the centerpiece of the story. Right?

Posted by Rojas @ 10:29 pm on February 11th 2011

Ron Paul’s Opt-Out Option

An astonishing proposal from Ron Paul at CPAC. Dig it.

Pay 10% of your income for core federal services like defense, criminal justice, and highways. And make a permanent pledge never to ask for anything more. Enforceable? I doubt it; it’s unimaginable that any such promise could be upheld under contract law. But an astonishing concept, if only as an abstraction.

And now, pull back for a minute, and take another look at how TPM decided to caption that video: “Ron Paul asks youth to opt out of America.” A very revealing statement on TPM’s part, isn’t it?

According to TPM, a person can invest themselves fully in civil society; they can attend their synagogue or mosque, serve on the PTA, coach Little League and compete in the local bowling league; they can run a Cub Scout troop and donate to charity; they can enroll and serve in the military; they can actively engage in the political process through the Democratic or Green Parties; they can take infinite pride in their heritage and work in their own way towards the nation’s future; they may do all of this; but if they do not choose to donate a specified surplus portion of their income to a set of federal social services which they do not want to be a part of, they are no longer Americans.

Imagine for a moment the unbelievable firestorm that would have arisen on the left if Ron Paul had dared set parameters around an arbitrary definition of what it means to be an American.

I submit that this is a statement with which there can be no compromise, and which liberaltarians ought to disavow.

As for TPM, it is exactly what it claims to be: a factory for Democratic Party talking points. It is a proud echo chamber, the Fox News of the left, only with less pretense. Now, my fellow bloggers and our seven readers, can we please stop taking them seriously as a source of news?

Posted by Brad @ 6:16 pm on February 10th 2011

Speaking of Revolutions…

It appears that the Ron Paul folks have gotten sufficiently comfortable at CPAC that they’re now no longer content to just get in the doors, but are now actively causing mischief.

As, for instance, when Dick Cheney showed up to introduce Donald Rumsfeld who is accepting the “Defender of the Constitution” award.

Or, for instance, when Donald Trump spoke.

As much as I believe Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld ought to be heckled everywhere they go, and as much as there are few people in America, at all, whose political opinions and strategies I am less interested in hearing than Donald Trump’s, I think fellow supporters of a certain Texas congressman could use the “don’t be asses” lecture again.

Posted by Brad @ 1:17 pm on February 8th 2011

The Ron Paul House Subcommittee for Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology*

Tomorrow at 10:00 AM EST is Ron Paul’s first Monetary Committee hearing, which you can watch on CSpan or supposedly it’ll stream live from the Financial Services Committee website. Apparently they expect a well over capacity crowd in the public gallery for it, which is funny.

The subject of the hearing: “Can Monetary Policy Really Create Jobs?”

Witness list: Dr. Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Professor of Economics, Sellinger School of Business, Loyola University, Baltimore; Dr. Richard Vedder, Professor of Economics, Ohio University; Dr. Josh Bivens, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. Two hardcore Austrian economists, one beltway shill.

Should be fun.

*I would also like to throw in for what a supremely excellent band name this would be.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:31 pm on February 7th 2011

The obligatory Reagan anniversary post

Who are the only two potenial 2012 Presidential contenders who can boast having been explicitly endorsed by Ronald Reagan?

Haley Barbour. Aaaaaaaand…

Posted by Cameron @ 3:56 am on December 14th 2010

I still get giddy when I see one.

From the recent Ron Paul feature in the New York Times:

“I was on the House floor today,” he said, “and somebody I don’t know real well, another Republican, he was talking to two other members, and he knew I was listening. He pointed at me and said, ‘That guy has more bumper stickers in my district than I do!’ ”

Posted by Jerrod @ 6:54 am on December 12th 2010

Ron Paul speaks in the House about Wikileaks

Posted by Brad @ 11:15 am on December 10th 2010

Cue Theme From Jaws

It’s official. Representative Ron Paul is now the United States congressman in charge of domestic monetary policy. Jurisdiction: Domestic monetary policy, currency, precious metals, valuation of the dollar, economic stabilization, defense production, commodity prices, financial aid to commerce and industry.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:09 am on November 28th 2010

Security Theatre Update

Everybody’s outraged about TSA full-body scanners and the invasive alternatives thereto. But which member of Congress wants to make TSA agents legally liable for their behavior during said screenings? Hint: check the category tags at the bottom of this post…

Posted by Brad @ 5:30 pm on November 20th 2010

The Vindication of Ron Paul

A nice op-ed in the Baltimore Sun by Ron Smith.

Ron’s influence will always be far greater than generally acknowledged, and that’s particularly true as it concerns the Tea Party movement, arguably the biggest political story of 2008-2012, and which has used Paul’s campaign and ideology as a template from the very beginning. I have no doubt that he’s the Godfather of the movement, even if by now he’s only a small part of it. Still, nice to see the occassional cycle of stories like these.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:16 am on November 11th 2010

Guess who’ll be running the committee that oversees the Federal Reserve?

Remember the Bush administration, when Republicans in government were all buddy-buddy with the people they were supposed to be regulating, allowing them free rein and occasionally permitting them to write legislation?

Well, this is the opposite of that.

Posted by Brad @ 5:00 pm on October 31st 2010

Happy Halloween

Ron Paul!

Posted by Brad @ 12:01 pm on October 27th 2010

Packin’ ‘Em In

Pop quiz:

Which political figurehead drew the following crowd for an appearance at Indiana University on a lazy Monday evening?

A. Barack Obama
B. Sarah Palin
C. Jon Stewart
D. Ron Paul


Posted by Rojas @ 9:53 pm on August 25th 2010

So where is Ron Paul on Park 51?

Like you even need to ask.

Posted by Brad @ 3:40 pm on June 10th 2010

The Breathtaking Electoral Power of Ron Paul

Bless Public Policy Polling for continuing to poll head-to-head Obama-GOP matchups for the 2012 election that include Ron Paul. They allow us to discover things such as this:

Polling close to Obama are Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. The President leads Huckabee 46-44 and Romney 45-42. They both do a good job of consolidating the GOP vote and holding a solid advantage with independents.

Doing less well are Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Ron Paul. Obama has a 47-39 advantage over Gingrich, a 50-41 against Palin, and 46-36 edge matched against Paul.

One thing that’s very interesting about these numbers is that Ron Paul is the most popular out of the whole group with independents. They see him favorably by a 35/25 margin. The only other White House hopeful on positive ground with them is Romney at a +2 spread and they’re very negative on the rest: -5 for Huckabee, -16 for Gingrich and Palin, and -17 for Obama. All five of the possible GOP contenders lead Obama with independents, but Paul does so by the widest margin at 46-28.

Kick ass.

Posted by Rojas @ 1:25 am on May 28th 2010

Guess who just voted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?

If you’re reading it on this blog, you’ve probably figured it out already…

Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Ron Paul, R-Texas, Joseph Cao, R-La., and Charles Djou, R-Hawaii, were the only Republicans to vote in favor of scrapping the law.

I am delighted…and bewildered. Dr. Paul was unambiguously pro-DADT on the campaign trail in 2008, and we at this blog went round and round trying to square that stance with the rest of his principles (see the comments thread here).

There is not a clue on his website as to what prompted this vote; my best guess is that he will attempt to explain this in terms of a desire to overturn the Congressional mandate of DADT, thereby leaving the military free to set its own rules.

Or maybe…dare I hope…he had the same trouble squaring this with his principles that the rest of us did, and changed his mind.

History is going to judge the Republicans who voted in favor of this very much the way it judges those who broke the filibuster on the Civil Rights Act. I think particular congratulations have to go out to Cao on this; it will be a brutally tough sell in his constituency, and it’s not like he’s going to have the easiest road to reelection in any case.

Posted by Rojas @ 3:14 pm on May 20th 2010


Informed speculation at RCP regarding the next two Presidential cycles:

As for Ron Paul’s candidacy, my source pointed out that according to every public and private indication, he doesn’t want to run another presidential race. The congressman told Reason magazine that he remains “firmly undecided” about another go-round, with good reason. He is not a young man. He is seen by too many people as a dangerous radical. A sub-par performance in 2012 could damage the Paul brand and make it harder for his son to make a run at it.

The possibility that Ron Paul seems to be playing with, my source argued, goes like this: Put up a candidate for the next Republican primary who credibly carry the banner, and then hand off his new political machine to his son for a run in 2016. Former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has been making the rounds at many Campaign for Liberty events, and could make a credible candidate, provided he doesn’t begin every speech by talking about pot.

A politician more dedicated to viability of the message than to his own ambition? It’s hard to imagine such a thing in American politics.

Speculation regarding the 2016 cycle is massively overblown, particularly given that the candidate in question has every chance to lose his Senate campaign. But I’m immensely encouraged by this scenario for 2012. Johnson is a wonderful evolutionary step for the movement; it ceases to be seen as a cult of personality, and it makes permanent the presence of libertarianism at the highest levels of Republican politics. It also etches in stone Ron Paul’s legacy and ensures that the memory of his campaign will not be tarnished the way, for instance, Perot’s has been. Let it be done!

Posted by Brad @ 4:23 pm on April 20th 2010

I Guess I Owe RCP an Apology

For blasting them on their CPAC and SLRC coverage as it pertained to Dr. Paul.

Writing for the site, Jeremy Lott admits we’re in the midst of “A Ron Paul Moment“.

Posted by Brad @ 11:27 am on April 14th 2010

Ron Paul – General Election Contender

So, Rasmussen polled 1000 people on Ron Paul, perhaps on a lark or perhaps on a commission. They included a Barack Obama – Ron Paul head-to-head. The result is awesome.

2. In thinking about the 2012 Presidential election suppose you had a choice between Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Barack Obama. If the election were held today, would you vote for Republican Ron Paul or Democrat Barack Obama?

41% Paul
42% Obama
11% Some other candidate
6% Not sure

As cool as that is to see, it’s surely mostly the result of discontent with Obama and probably could have been replicated with just a generic R – although, of course, Paul is not a generic R. But also of interest is the opinion of 1000 registered voters about Paul’s role in the party. Among those who had an opinion (55%):

3. Is Ron Paul a divisive force in the Republican Party, or is he representative of a new direction for the party?

21% He is a divisive force in the Republican party
34% He is representative of a new direction for the party


1. Do you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable impression of Ron Paul?

10% Very favorable
29% Somewhat favorable
18% Somewhat unfavorable
12% Very unfavorable
32% Not sure

What’s interesting about that is that one would expect most Paulites would fall in the “very favorable” category. My guess is the other 29% are Paul-sympathizers, which tracks roughly with my own expectations (that a good portion of the politically informed have a respect for Ron Paul and sympathize with him), but cuts directly across the beltway cw (he is a madman well on the fringe that only a slim number of crazed internet libertarians like). And when specifically asked about his role in the party (although I don’t like the wording of the question), significantly more people see him as a positive force in conservatism than a negative one.

And that roughly 40-30 favorability rating is, frankly, a representative spread of a generally popular mainstream figure, and hardly the sort of numbers one would see for somebody viewed as a fringe lunatic (where it would be a minority strongly favorable, a much larger portion unfavorable, and a much larger “not sure” figure). The robustness of the “somewhat”s here is fascinating.

And even more bizarre, what’s keeping Paul down in the head-to-head? It’s not independents—he actually beats Obama with independents, almost 2 to 1 (!). It’s not Democrats—Paul actually depresses their partisan support of Obama in that matchup to a very respectable 79%. It’s Republicans. Only 66% would support Paul running against Obama.

Posted by Brad @ 8:46 pm on April 11th 2010

Southern Republican Leadership Conference Straw Poll

The headline out of New Orleans (first google news result): Mitt Romney Beats Sarah Palin in Republican Straw Poll.

The lede:

The Republican establishment favourite, Mitt Romney, secured a surprise victory over the American right’s grassroots choice Sarah Palin at the weekend in an early test of who will challenge Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race.

Romney, the multi-millionaire businessman and former Massachusetts governor, won 24% (439 votes) to Palin’s 18% (330 votes) among delegates at the Southern Republican leadership conference, a traditional showcase for presidential hopefuls.

Huh. So I wonder what happened to Ron Paul?

Paragraph 10:

The fragility of Romney’s win in New Orleans is highlighted by the fact that he won only one vote more than Ron Paul, who is seen in Washington as a marginal figure.

So…the results are Mitt Romney 439 votes, Ron Paul 438 votes, Sarah Palin 330 votes, Newt Gingrich 330 votes. Tim Pawlenty, Gary Johnson, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Mike Pence, all failed to rate more than a dozen or so each (sadly, Johnson placed dead last, with but a 1).

I wonder what Tom Bevan thinks (CPAC Reax)?

A final note: the sense that Paul supporters flooded the vote will lead other Republican presidential water-testers to easily discount the results. A straw poll that will be conducted at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this April in New Orleans will be taken much more seriously among those involved with and eagerly watching the presidential sweepstakes.

Posted by Brad @ 8:53 pm on February 24th 2010

The Paulpocalypse

I realize we haven’t put up a Ronslaught post in like 12 hours. Sorry Adam! Here’s one!

Brian Doherty, who has been following Ron Paul for almost as long as Rojas, has what I think is the most reasonable take on the CPAC thing, and the one with the most perspective. Bonus: he is saying everything we are saying, including linking the same things we’re linking. Anyway, I think it’s a take worth reading for opponents and supporters alike, though it doesn’t really come to any conclusions (something Reason has been doing a lot of lately, but I digress). Still, the sense of almost numb shock at seeing a guy who was at one time a totally obscure curiosity possibly ushering in a normalization of really hardcore libertarian ideals is worth reading, and is something I and I know Rojas can relate to.

I predicted last September that Ron Paul could well be playing a Goldwater in 1960 role—the first stirrings of a strongly anti-government coalition whose electoral effectiveness won’t become manifest for a while—and the CPAC victory is an encouraging sign in that direction. The usual caveats apply about the unknowability of the future, and the generally predictable pusillanimity when it comes to liberty of both the voters and politicians who have tended to decide the Republican Party’s direction.

Still, it does feel like something is happening, and we don’t know what it is, do we Dr. Paul? I’ve been following Ron Paul’s career since 1988, when my buddies in the University of Florida College Libertarians brought him—then the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate—to our campus to speak. He drew 100 or so people, copped a front page story in the college paper, and fed into my and my comrade’s youthful sense of a subterranean liveliness in ideas and politics that it was still possible to dredge, at least for a moment, to the surface. Swaying masses in that libertarian direction seemed…well, I suppose it was the goal, but in the same sense that interstellar travel might be seen as the “goal” of reading and thinking about science fiction. Libertarian Party politics seemed at best an entertaining vehicle toward the semi-actualization of some wild, hopeful imaginings.

Posted by Brad @ 4:46 pm on February 23rd 2010

Ron Paul in Scarborough Country

Sorry for the Ronslaught of late, but this was good.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

One thing I didn’t realize: this year, 54% of CPAC attendees were between the ages of 18-25, which everyone keeps mentioning, mostly in the context of it proving the vote was worthless.

Last year, 57% of CPAC attendees were between 18-25, and Mitt Romney won, and I can’t recall anybody ever mentioning that.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:09 pm on February 23rd 2010

Gay-friendly Conservatism

When gay conservative groups established a bold presence at CPAC, and when they came under fire from the usual bigots, guess whose supporters rallied to their defense?

Like you didn’t already know.

The Paul-inspired groups were responsible for one of the pivotal moments of the three-day conference. On Friday, Students for Liberty president Alexander McCobin used his speech in the rapid-fire “Two-Minute Activist” line-up to “commend CPAC for inviting GOProud,” a gay Republican group. That got a rise out of Ryan Sobra, an anti-gay activist who followed McCobin and condemned the conference for inviting the group. When he was booed, Sobra confusingly attacked Jeff Frazee — the head of Young Americans for Liberty. But he was onto something — it was the presence of Paul fans, who had crowded into the room for his upcoming speech, that meant Sobra would get more boos than cheers.

“I was thanking my lucky stars that the Ron Paul fans were there,” said Jimmy LaSalva, the executive director of GOProud, in a Saturday interview with TWI. “The Campaign for Liberty deserves a lot of credit for setting that tone.”

The more I read about CPAC, the more I think that the straw poll was only the tip of the iceberg. The performance of the young Paulites was simply sensational at every level–and their insistance on full respect for gay attendees is particularly inspiring. This has been way too long in coming, and there is clearly still a lot of work to be done. But for the first time, there seems to be a meaningful insurgency within party ranks on the issue.

I have never been prouder to be part of this movement.

Posted by Rojas @ 10:41 am on February 22nd 2010

Get the wedge!

Glenn Greenwald–as authentic a civil libertarian as you’ll find–points out that the Republican record of governance is incompatible with the small-government preferences of the Tea Party movement, and wonders why on earth Paulites in particular would consider an alliance of convenience with the neoconservative Republican establishment.

Two responses.

1. Greenwald makes the same mistake as a large portion of the media in considering the Tea Party movement as an ideological monolith. Of course, he makes the mistake in a different way; while the mainstream media sees them all as Palinites (and I suppose that from the ideological starting point of the media, everyone on the right might seem to be), Greenwald sees the movement as overwhelmingly Paulite. I only wish that were true. Ironically, it’s been observers on the right who’ve painted the most accurate picture of the internal divergences in the movement. Perhaps this is a function of the right-wing media having actually attempted to understand the story they’re reporting on instead of using it as a target for mockery. Which leads us to:

2. Greenwald forgets that, from its inception, the Tea Party movement has been the target of widespread mockery and resentment on the left. Its members have been accused of fanatacism and racism at every turn. To the extent that any effort has been made to understand the concerns of the Tea Partiers, it has been made by Republicans.

The truth be told, I strongly sympathize with Greenwald’s criticism; I’ve been outspoken in these pages about the need for the Tea Party (particularly the Paulite segment) to remain independent in their outlook and avoid being coopted by one party or the other. In point of fact I think that’s a necessary strategy for libertarians generally at this stage. But there isn’t much point in wondering why the Tea Party movement leans the way it does. As badly as Ron Paul and his sympathizers have been treated by the Republican mainstream–and at times they have been treated very, very badly indeed–it doesn’t hold a candle to the way the entire Tea Party movement has been ridiculed by the Obama faction and their media enablers.

No, most Tea Partiers don’t have an awful lot in common with the Republican establishment. No, they shouldn’t be signing up as that party’s footsoldiers. But the movement’s partisan lean didn’t drop into existence out of a clear blue sky, and civil libertarians like Greenwald ought to reflect upon its causes rather that gaze bewildered at its effects.

Posted by Brad @ 9:39 pm on February 20th 2010

Feel the Ronslaught; CPAC Victory Reax

First, The Corner, because I was most interested in seeing the partisan Republican take.

Aside from two VERY noticeable dissenters (John Derbyshire and David Freddoso), National Review has not, shall we say, been on board the Ronslaught. They invested themselves even more than most partisan organizations into the 2002-2006 neoconservative narrative, so Paul was seen as, at best, a lunatic, and at worst, a traitor not in the party sense, but in the American one.

So it’s nice to see the top post at The Corner about Ron’s victory in the CPAC straw poll giving the good doctor a tip of the hat and a healthy dose of respect (they’re also perhaps less inclined to dismiss CPAC straw polls, as they trumpeted Romney’s heavily).

I’ll quote it in full. From Robert Costa:

There may have been some boos, but Paul was by far one of the more popular speakers at CPAC this year. “End the Fed!” was one of most-heard chants and his “Campaign for Liberty” group was everywhere. Heck, a lot of the time, it seemed like they, not the American Conservative Union, was CPAC’s host. Even Ann Coulter, who drew a huge crowd herself, felt compelled to give a shout out to Paul-mania, saying she agreed with everything he stands for outside of foreign policy — a statement met with cheers.

Paul supporters were the most visible and vocal throughout CPAC — waving posters, signs, and passing out pamphlets. Unlike the 2012 wannabes, Paul doesn’t play coy: He has a manifesto and wants to broadcast it. Period. No worries about the media spin or whether the speech gets headlines (see Pawlenty, Tiger doctrine). And, instead of the usual anti-Obama talk, Paul framed a hefty chunk of his CPAC address upon a critique of Woodrow Wilson. And the crowd dug it.

Some older CPAC attendees don’t seem to care much for the Texas congressman, sure, but many young activists seem to regard him as a hero of sorts. When he talks about the debt, like he did on Friday, calling it a “monster” that will “eat up” our future, it was with a passion that you can’t fake in politics. He also didn’t mind challenging many of the room’s security hawks on foreign policy. “There is nothing wrong with being a conservative and having a conservative belief in foreign policy where we have a strong national defense and don’t go to war so carelessly,” Paul said. That line was met with a lot of silence, some nods, but, based on my conservations with activists afterward, strong respect from many for not simply pandering.

As Paul strolled through the lobby on Friday, slightly hunched and rail thin, cell phones galore lit up the Marriott Wardman Park. Students, a huge CPAC contingent, flocked. That should have been a sign to anyone looking to predict the straw poll. While Paul mingled with his acolytes, the big guns — Pawlenty, Romney — were often shrouded by aides or mingling backstage. Believe me: CPAC folks noticed. And now, thanks to the straw poll, for a moment, Paul’s opening line from his address is true: His “revolution is alive and well,” at least this weekend.

More below the jump.


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