The mystery man behind Ron Paul's millions
Slowly as the crucial primary votes come closer and closer, thanks to his growing legions of supporters working the Internet and street corners, Ron Paul is becoming a name to reckon with in the Republican nomination race.
Not so much because the 72-year-old libertarian-minded ob-gyn and 10-term GOP representative from Texas has any realistic chance of winning the nomination, let alone the election next November. But he can affect the outcome by drawing votes from others. (Though don't even hint at any skepticism about victory to his fervent, hopeful supporters, or they'll bury you in e-mails, some of them printable.)
Ron Paul is gaining more national recognition by the media, with voters and in the polls, where he's climbed from zero to nearly double-digit percentages, not necessarily because of his distaste for foreign entanglements and his eagerness to exit Iraq, and not necessarily because of his plan to dismantle much of the federal government, get rid of the Federal Reserve, honor the Constitution more and return to the gold standard.
Ron Paul is gaining more recognition because he's gaining more money, many millions of dollars in donations, much of it in small amounts. In the third quarter Paul outraised current Republican front-runner Mike Huckabee by 5 to 1. This quarter the Paul campaign has a shot at raising the most money of any Republican candidate, depending on how much of his own loot Mitt Romney puts in.
On Sunday, the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, the Paul campaign is shooting to break the one-day online fundraising record of more than $6 million.
So how is this little old man with the unorthodox political ideas doing all this? Well, as The Times' campaign finance guru, Dan Morain, explains in a fascinating feature article to appear here late tonight on the website and in Sunday's print editions, it's mainly because of a nobody named Trevor Lyman, who's so little known that Ron Paul called him Clymon during a TV interview.
He's a 37-year-old generally unshaven musician who was smitten with Paul's program last spring ...
and offered to help raise money. Using the Internet creatively and Paul's 1,200 meet-up groups, Lyman detonated the first "money bomb" on Nov. 5, raising $4.2 million for the Paul forces, which enabled them to get on TV in New Hampshire, among other things, and to finance a Ron Paul blimp publicity stunt.
The next target date was Nov. 30, a disappointment at "only" $500,000. The Web, including the comments section of this blog, has been abuzz in recent days with Paulites touting their candidate. The campaign's website puts this quarter's fundraising as having passed $11.5 million.
-- Andrew Malcolm