Tea Party founder surging ahead in polls
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/08/2011 (4306 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WASHINGTON — Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul says he’s the Rodney Dangerfield of U.S. politics, griping recently that he gets no respect from the media in terms of coverage even after finishing a close second to Michele Bachmann in the often game-changing Iowa straw poll.
The media, Paul said at the time, “is frightened by me challenging the status quo and the establishment.”
But with this week’s latest Gallup poll showing the libertarian pulling ahead of Bachmann and gaining on frontrunners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, Americans are beginning to sit up and take notice of the 12-term Texas congressman who’s considered the intellectual godfather of the Tea Party movement.
The Gallup survey has Paul running within two points of U.S. President Barack Obama. Mitt Romney, by comparison, runs two points ahead of Obama, while Rick Perry is tied. In a Rasmussen poll, Paul trails the president by just one percentage point.
And in a Pew Research poll released Thursday, Paul also nudged ahead of Bachmann to place fourth in a survey that asked Republican voters what candidate they’d prefer. Pizza magnate Herman Cain, whose fortunes have fallen significantly in recent weeks, was third behind Perry and Romney.
Cain sounded a similar complaint about the media’s coverage of the race in an interview Thursday.
“The mainstream media, as you know, they’ve tried to narrow this down to just what they call the top tier of… three people at the top, and it’s not like that,” he said on Fox News. “There’s a disconnect between what the mainstream media and what the real people are saying.”
Paul, indeed, is steadily gaining momentum, raising US$1.8 million in 24 hours last weekend in what was described as an online “money bomb” to coincide with his 76th birthday. It was the fourth time the candidate has raised more than $1 million in a single day since announcing he was seeking the 2012 nomination.
And yet the media attention paid to Paul was scant until fake news guru Jon Stewart ranted last week on the Daily Show, running clips that showed major news outlets — including Fox News — practically contorting themselves to avoid mentioning Paul at all, never mind his recent successes.
“How did libertarian Ron Paul become the 13th floor of a hotel?” asked Stewart after describing Paul as “ideologically consistent” and “the real deal.”
The Pew Research Center’s Excellence in Journalism Project backs up Stewart’s observations. A recent study found that Paul was the 10th leading election newsmaker, trailing far behind even the flailing Newt Gingrich as well as non-candidates Donald Trump and Sarah Palin.
Paul, a former obstetrician who’s pro-life but says abortion laws should be determined on a state-by-state basis, says the Stewart shoutout helped his fundraising campaign considerably.
“I thought it was rather astounding,” he said earlier this week.
Dennis Simon, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said there’s little doubt Paul is pushing America’s buttons on a larger scale than he did in his previous two attempts to get the Republican nomination, most recently in 2008.
“He’s resonating, there’s no question,” Simon said in an interview Thursday.
And unlike in ’08, the issues that Paul has been railing about for more than two decades as a congressman have suddenly gone mainstream.
Paul has long been critical of the Federal Reserve Board, for example. Public opinion polls now suggest Americans overwhelmingly agree with his call to audit the Fed.
He’s consistently called for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. In fact, he railed against America’s monstrously expensive overseas wars so passionately during the most recent Republican debate that he got the biggest and most prolonged cheers of the night, something that went largely unreported.
Simon doesn’t think Paul can soar much higher, however.
“I think that he’s got an upper limit and he’s approaching it,” Simon said.
— The Canadian Press