Ron Paul's birthday 'money bomb' nets $1.6 million
When it comes to donations, Texas Rep. Ron Paul believes small is beautiful.
In a 24-hour fundraising push over the weekend, GOP presidential candidate Paul scooped up more than $1.6 million in small donations. It was Paul's 76th birthday and his loyal band of dedicated campaigners came through again for the inconoclastic Texas libertarian.
This happened despite a cyber-attack on the campaign Website, announced on Paul's Facebook page, that shut it down for a few hours.
A press release quoted campaign chairman Jesse Benton as saying, "Our campaign is surging, and today's money bomb results show the strength of our grassroots support. We've just come off an impressive finish in the Iowa straw poll, and our growing poll numbers and strong fundraising proves that our message is resonating with people."
Indeed, those who support Paul are passionate, but the RealClearPolitics.com average of major polls puts the 11-term congressman sixth in the field of Republican hopefuls, behind Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin (who's not actually running yet), Michele Bachmann and Rudy Giuliani (also not officially running), but ahead of declared candidates Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Rick Santorum.
The 2012 campaign is a final push for Paul, who has announced he will not seek another term in the House in order to concentrate on his presidential race.
One of the biggest obstacles in Paul's way is fellow Texan Rick Perry, the Lone Star State's longest-serving governor. Since announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination last Saturday, Perry has generated a lot of buzz and attention (and a Twitter endorsement from rocker and businessman Gene Simmons).
Perry also has a successful history of getting donors to open their wallets.
In an interview with ABC News, Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, said, "He is the most successful campaign fundraiser in the history of Texas politics, hands down."
The question will be whether Perry can transition from his base of big-money donors in his home state to attract the attention of big donors nationwide -- a strength of Romney, who's also got personal wealth to draw on -- and the support of individual donors more focused on particular issues and ideologies (such as Paul's).
"I don't think money will be an object [for Perry]," McDonald also said. "I mean, it won't be a question in his success unless he stumbles badly."
True, Paul's moneybombs were larger back in the 2007-08 cycle; he got $5 million one day then and even outraised Mike Huckabee, the last GOP candidate to concede to John McCain's primary efforts.
There's little doubt Paul's ardent fans will continue to throw dollars at him, but if Perry locks into the national big-money bundlers, the battle of Texas could be over quickly.
-- Kate O'Hare
Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.
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Photo: Ron Paul at the Iowa State Fair. Credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images