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Ron Paul forces Mitt Romney out of the GOP race

February 8, 2008 |  3:04 am

Clearly spooked by a few of Rep. Ron Paul's second-place finishes kind of close behind him, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Romney was so flustered in his dropout speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington Thursday, that he didn't even mention Ron Paul.

That's not unusual, actually. Hardly any other candidate and virtually no major media, especially CNN, has mentioned his name for the last year, so terrified are they of his stare and his libertarian-like views, including downsizing the federal government, bringing American troops home and abolishing the Federal Reserve.

Sometimes it seems almost like a media conspiracy to ignore the former ob-gyn. Except for not one....

but two Jay Leno appearances. They even give Paul less speaking time in the debates, if they don't ban him altogether.

Despite spending some $35 million of his own money and $55 million more that once belonged to other people, the 60-year-old Romney youngster was forced to give way to the 72-year-old, 10-term congressman from Texas, who has fired up thousands of dedicated and determined and very vocal and frustrated followers, young and old, across the country and permeating the Internet. He's even got one big-name donor, one big-name endorser and another perhaps maybe.

Ron Paul signs are still flapping in the prairie winds across Iowa, where Paul's caucus finish ahead of Rudy Giuliani launched the former New York mayor's eventual political decline. Then, in New Hampshire despite being barred from the nationally-televised Fox News debate, Paul beat former Sen. Fred Thompson, which began his inevitable political death spiral.

In the face of Paul's relentless campaigning here and there and his successful fundraising -- he raised nearly $20 million in the fourth quarter of 2007, more than any other Republican -- Romney, who only has an estimated $165 million of his personal fortune left, had no choice really but to quit.

Romney's exit follows the similar Paul-forced departures of other far more famous GOP candidates -- Giuliani, Thompson, Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore. Jeb Bush didn't even consider trying.

That leaves only Pittsburgh-native Paul, somebody named John McCain and this Mike Huckabee fellow from Arkansas, who seems to have had considerable trouble keeping a job. He's been a radio talk host, a Baptist preacher, lieutenant governor and governor. And Huckabee's had trouble raising money. He got only $1 million in the third quarter compared to Paul's $5 million.

So Huckabee can't last much longer.

That will leave only McMaverick, a former Navy squadron commander and POW who endured nearly six years of solitary confinement in Vietnam and then, worse, 25 years of listening to congressional speeches. He didn't get around to mentioning Paul either in his speech Thursday, but he was probably afraid.

Paul's website reports he's raised another $5.3 million just since Jan.1, which is more than Hillary Clinton can loan herself in one week.

Paul has given the Democrats until early August to choose between Clinton and Barack Obama, who's so young he can't remember life without color TV.

According to an authoritative Ron Paul campaign news release, with all of his accumulated fifth, fourth, third and second places, Paul claims to have 42 delegates to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul come September.

That puts him only about 660 delegates behind McCain and barely 1,149 shy of the number necessary to seize the party nomination in the name of the Ron Paul Revolution.

And Texas doesn't vote until March 4!

-- Andrew Malcolm