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Ron Paul wows them in Pa. -- but does it matter?

April 4, 2008 |  9:30 am

A story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tells us that Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign is still puffing along ahead of the April 22 primary there, even though John McCain is already getting fitted for the coronation cape and crown at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. Paul spoke Thursday before a crowd of about 500 people at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and didn't make any news -- other than the fact that he's still campaigning in a Republican nomination fight that is long over.

The Paulistas like to argue that the reason Paul never caught fire is because the mainstream media (that would be us) froze him out. But with more than $30 million raised and a skeletal staEngineff -- which means limited overhead -- Paul had plenty of cash to buy airtime in meaningful places to get his message out. In fact, he raised about half of what McCain raised.

And the Paulistas' savvy use of the Internet gave him yet another avenue to proselytize his political beliefs of a minimal, non-interventionist government. But those arguments just didn't resonate with enough Republican voters to get him the nomination -- Mike Huckabee, with half of Paul's cash, won 270 delegates to 14 for Paul.

So why do people still flock to hear Paul? Well, that's the interesting question. Judging by the comments lodged on this and other blogs, there's a fervent belief that Paul alone among the presidential candidates understands that something like U.S. disengagement from world conflicts, and the U.S. government's disengagement from the economy, is the only way to avoid economic disaster.

But there's also a touch of personality cult to it all -- similar to what we hear from fervent Barack Obama supporters. As Paul told the Pittsburgh paper, "steady determination" has marked his character over the years. "I think, if I should be compared to somebody," Paul said, "it might be called a true believer."

Maybe. But so are the supporters, many of whom use similar phrasing to talk about their embrace of Paul and the Ron Paul Revolution. The question is, where will these voters be in the fall?

-- Scott Martelle