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Invasion of the Paul People

November 4, 2007 |  5:10 pm

You have to wonder whether the Ron Paul posse really understands the kind of damage some of its members are inflicting on their candidate with their often crude, pushy, even bullying tactics. Advocacy is one thing; theirs can be another.

Fellow Republican Mitt Romney traveled to East Lansing, Mich. Saturday to do a little retail politicking (and pose for scores of snapshots) at the annual Michigan-Michigan State college football game, the kind of bragging-rights showdown UCLA-USC fans can appreciate (Michigan won). Romney dutifully made his way to a pre-game tailgate party hosted by state Republican chair Saul Anuzis, and then a nearby gathering held by the MSU College Republicans -- both within sight of Spartan Stadium.

But every time Romney turned around, there was a Paul supporter trying to barge into the picture. One tall guy in a U-M bathrobe grabbed Romney's hand, then whipped out a Paul lawn sign and asked Romney what he thought of his rival. Three or four other Paul volunteers waved lawn signs behind Romney's head until Romney supporters blocked them with their own signs, sparking a campaign-sign aerial dogfight as Romney gripped and grinned.

Yet another Paul supporter grabbed Romney's hand and asked him what he thought about the "news media blackout of Ron Paul." Which makes you wonder whether some of these folks are so caught up in their paranoia that they ever look at the media coverage (exhibits A, B, C and D).

The key here is that as the Paul people pressed, the frowns on the faces of those gathered at these two Republican events spread. These were not Romney campaign events but local Republican tailgate parties that Romney stopped by. So there were plenty of uncommitteds the Paul posse could have won.

But judging by the crowd's cold reaction to their antics (one guy swore menacingly at a Paulite behind him because the volunteer kept dropping his sign in front of the guy's face as he tried to snap a picture), the Paul posse didn't win their candidate much respect.

Which isn't what a smart campaign would be doing less than three months before it wants local voters to decide their guy is ready to lead the nation.

-- Scott Martelle

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