Coming soon: a Ron Paul office near you?
Ron Paul opened a campaign office this afternoon in Charleston, S.C. -- his third in a state that traditionally has been crucial to deciding who Republicans nominate for president.
According to Brian Gentry, the South Carolina field coordinator for Paul, more than 150 people attended the event, where the candidate spoke for about 15 minutes, then answered questions for another 20.
The new digs join offices already operating in Greenville, S.C., and Columbia, S.C.
In Iowa, meanwhile, campaign aide John Zambenini reports that a couple of satellite operations soon will open, supplementing the work performed at the main headquarters in Des Moines.
In New Hampshire (a much smaller state, size-wise, than the other two), the one office in Concord probably will suffice. But state campaign coordinator Jared Chicoine says it's spacious -- 2,400 square feet -- and now includes telephone banks.
The point? Inexorably, Paul is establishing the type of infrastructure ...
that not so many months ago would have been hard to imagine for such a renegade politician. Presumably, the nuts and bolts being put in place give the campaign a chance to channel the obvious ardor that he has generated.
What it all will add to on caucus day in Iowa and in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, if -- and how -- support for Paul will skew the Republican race, have become a matter of growing conjecture (which is something few would have once anticipated).
Count Stuart Rothenberg, a long-established expert in the rudiments of U.S. politics, as a hardcore skeptic.
In a provocative column today, Rothenberg dismisses the Paul campaign as sound and fury that will amount to little. He writes: "Single-handedly, the quirky libertarian Republican from Texas has unintentionally exposed the over-hype that accompanies much of the talk about politics and the Internet."
Rothenberg asks: "How can we explain" the interest Paul has sparked, especially in cyberspace?
His answer: "This is a big country with hundreds of millions of people, some of whom are attracted to quirky, anti-establishment candidates. And some of those people are angry, looking for an outspoken leader and searching for an easy answer to the nation's problems.
"But there simply are not all that many of them."
Rothenberg anticipates that his critique will unleash a barrage of bashing from Paulites. But, as one of the candidate's aides commented to us, it may serve mainly to motivate them even more.
-- Don Frederick