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Crazy Is Not Taking Ron Paul Seriously

Articles about Ron Paul and his presidential campaign almost always take one of two stances: Either he's wacky or his supporters are wacky.

The most recent piece comes from Stuart Rothenberg, who writes the Rothenberg Political Report. Rothenberg argues that Paul's wackiness proves both Paul and the Internet's effects on politics need to be ignored. Rothenberg is wrong on both counts.

Rothenberg notices that the Republican congressman from Texas raised lots of money in a single day and received national headlines. Few reporters had written about Paul before then. Despite the shock of Paul's success, Rothenberg downplays the amount of money raised, comparing it to the gobs of money that big hitters like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani have raised.

But the parallel proves poor. Those are major candidates with strong national profiles who can easily tap into key fundraising networks. Professional fundraisers hold events in major cities where big donors line up to give the maximum of $2,300 per person.

This is not how Paul's campaign has raised money. The campaign has given supporters the freedom to do what they want. Supporters have used the Internet to build a grass-roots following. His support is organic.

In fact, the idea for the big Nov. 5 online fundraiser didn't begin with the campaign at all. It came from several Paul enthusiasts who organized it and brought it to fruition. It was a success only because of the intersection of the candidate and the Internet. On that day, more than 35,000 donors gave to the campaign online, and a record of $4.3 million dollars was raised. This would be a great day for any campaign.

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