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Monday, February 27, 2012

Ron Paul Supporters look to convention

By Aaron Gould Sheinin

They are full-throated and full-throttle for the Texas congressman and Republican presidential hopeful.

Paul’s fans here are easy to spot and plan to stay busy through Super Tuesday. Though many aren’t traditionally associated with the Republican Party, their activities are common: sign waving in Cherokee and DeKalb counties, a rally in Marietta, a potluck dinner in Gwinnett. In cyberspace, Paul’s following is legion, and from Facebook and Twitter to Meetup.com, his supporters are voracious in their championing of the candidate.

Their attraction to the libertarian-leaning Paul is varied. Some love his record as a strict fiscal conservative who eschews tax increases and fights to lower the national debt. Others are drawn to his interest in moving the country’s currency back to the gold standard and still others love his foreign policy, which is centered around a withdrawal of most U.S. troops from around the world.

The same enthusiasm for Paul was there in 2008, when Paul also ran for president, yet he finished a distant fourth in the Georgia primary. This year, he again trails — polls show him in single digits — in the race for Georgia’s March 6 primary, but his supporters hope their influence in the state won’t end March 6.

Paul has a plan to remain relevant through the Republican National Convention this summer in Tampa. The blueprint goes beyond the primary to the GOP state convention in May, when Paul supporters will try to get themselves elected delegates to the national convention. If that happens, they could try to crash the party and force a floor fight for the GOP nomination.

In a strategy that’s being employed in other states, too, Paul’s Georgia supporters lay out the idea right on their website: “Take back the GOP from the ne’re-do-wells by becoming a Georgia GOP Delegate!” the site implores, complete with instructions on how to navigate the party’s rules.

Christopher Wall, a Johns Creek firefighter, is a Paul supporter seeking a ticket to Tampa.

“I’ll go as far as I can,” he said.

Wall, who will be a delegate to his county convention, said if the nomination comes down to a fight at the convention, anything can happen.

“It’s likely we’ll have a brokered convention,” he said.

Georgia’s Paul-backers are not alone. Paul has not campaigned in Georgia and is not expected to. Instead, he has focused on states that are awarding their delegates through caucuses, rather than primaries, because they are a higher payout for candidates who rely on grass-roots support.
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