In a political season marked by warfare between Democrats and Republicans, the White House and Congress, haves and have-nots, GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has built staunch support among voters who are furious at the federal government — from emo-kids to retirees.
But in Thursday’s debate, as candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry tore into each other, Mr. Paul showed once more that he isn’t particularly upset with, or allied with, anyone. This week, the Texas congressman said he seldom even mentions President Barack Obama, though he’s picking up support from some of Mr. Obama’s disillusioned backers.
Mr. Paul says he doesn’t mind that Texas Gov. Perry has borrowed from Mr. Paul’s anti-Federal Reserve platform. “That’s how politicians operate, they reflect people’s views,” the Texas congressman said. Nor was he offended, like some supporters were, when Mr. Perry grabbed Mr. Paul in a killer arm-grip after one of the last debates: “That’s just him, every time he sees you, he grabs you…friendly.”
Unlike most candidates this season, Mr. Paul isn’t targeting the media, which routinely ignore him despite his third-place ranking in the polls: “I don’t take it personally…I think a lot of people don’t understand what I’m talking about…that’s what I work on the most, trying to refine my message.”
So what does frost the 76 year-old former obstetrician? Any suggestion that his position–he’s for a highly limited government, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and an overhaul of the federal monetary system—isn’t politically practical.
“If you give up on your principles I don’t think that’s being pragmatic,” says Mr. Paul, whose support ranges from 9% to 13% in recent polls. “Doing the wrong thing, even partially, isn’t being practical…if you have the right ideas and are forceful enough…I think you can get the support you need.”