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Ron Paul: Why his silly campaign launch today really matters for 2012

May 13, 2011 |  4:10 am

Texas Republican Representative Ron Paul opens his Iowa campaign office 5-10-11

Ron Paul.

Today is the big day. Well, a big day anyway.

Ron Paul, the 12-term Republican representative from Texas, appeared on one of those morning news shows that mixes the weather, singers, weather, authors, weather, actors, weather, the scary kidnapped child story and the occasional animal tale.

Paul conversed with that little guy with the precisely-tousled hair who used to work for Bill Clinton. And 48 hours after Paul opened his Iowa caucus campaign headquarters -- News Bulletin -- he "revealed" to "Good Morning America" his candidacy for president of the United States.

Here's why Paul and ABC did this together: It seems like news. Real news is hard to come by on Fridays. Especially "exclusive" access. Less competition for a bigger headline. It also saved Paul ballroom rent money and got....

...him more national media exposure than some New Hampshire street corner scrum with supporters chanting in the background.Ron Paul Supporter Joe Martin of South Dakota simply amended his campaign sign from 2008

George Stephanopoulos likes politics. He's very good at it; in fact, he should still be doing serious work hosting ABC's "This Week" Sunday morning show instead of what's-her-name-Ms-I-know-it-all-and-have-been-there-too, which ABC execs know now but can't say yet. Stand by, Jake Tapper.

Here's why Paul has absolutely no chance of ever becoming president: Americans were not ready to vote for a 72-year-old President McCain in 2008, so they're sure not ready to vote for a 77-year-old President Paul in 2012. 

Especially not against a 50-something incumbent with one billion dollars of other people's money to throw around as only Chicago Democrats know how.

Abraham Lincoln and George H.W. Bush aside, Americans historically do not like House members as president. (Sorry, Newt. Think Dick Gephardt.) Representatives are just too puny as politicians on the national stage.Texas Republican Representative Ron Paul in Iowa 5-10-11

But here's why Ron Paul's candidacy is very important:

While his perpetual calm manner comes across as the attentive, retired ob-gyn that he is, Paul's words and impossible policies reflect the powerful distaste for usual pols, their obsequious blather and the screw-you anger of a significant sector of motivated American voters.

And these militantly unhappy folks are not just Republicans; plenty of Democrats out here are frightened too because so many things like jobs, home values, retirement and hopey-changey Obama are not going as promised.

Wasn't it Obama who ran against the Iraq war, then ordered two troop surges into Afghanistan, took on Libya and now warns Syria every few days?

Paul's been in Washington a generation, but he talks like an outsider. His followers, now with one cycle's campaign experience under their tightened belts, are like Sarah Palin's believers genuinely motivated (even with amended campaign signs from 2008--see photo above).

Met many really excited Tim Pawlenty people yet? Or by-golly Rick Santorum boosters willing to wave his placards at cars passing under an interstate bridge for hours in the rain? Well, numerous Paul people are actually moving to the first primary state to work and vote for their candidate in New Hampshire.a Ron Paul Supporter listens to his candidate in iowa 5-10-11

Paul is really good with money. Last cycle he raised more than second-place finisher Rev. Huckabee, who's enjoying a lucrative private life now. After last week's little-noticed South Carolina GOP debate, Paul raised $1 million in 24 hours.

Like a fiscal conservative who walks the walk, Paul ended 2008's bid with not one penny of campaign debt. In fact, flying commercial and staying in Super 8's, Paul had a $5-million surplus, which he put toward sowing the seeds of something called the tea party.

Perhaps you've heard of it. Ron's son Rand got elected senator that way. As did the new 2011 Republican majority in the House.

The libertarian-like movement speaks to a broad-based unhappiness with and suspicion of too-big government, too much spending, too much debt, too much war. Bureaucracies and businesses saturated with cronies who take care of each other at the expense of those folks paying the bills.

Paul wants out of those wars. Forget the American empire. Use the money back home. Cut the federal government. Follow the Constitution. Get out of people's lives. Paul's plans don't have a snowball's chance in a Galveston August of becoming reality. But despite all the tea party media mocking of two years ago, it was this movement that drove last fall's midterm election debate -- and victories. And the ongoing budget, deficit and debt limit arguments.

Now the same priorities are setting the parameters for choosing a Republican nominee to confront the Democrats' ex-change agent.

Funny how the mantle of leading drastic national reforms has so quickly fallen from the shoulders of the younger guy and into the experienced hands of the newest -- and oldest -- fellow now in the White House race. 

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press (Paul and supporters in Iowa, May 10).

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