Fundraising Falters, but Paul, Supporters Look to Convention

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), waves to supporters after speaking at his primary night campaign rally on January 10, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images/Getty)

Ron Paul came in a distant third in the Illinois primary on Tuesday, and raised less money in February than during any other reporting period since the beginning of his campaign. Still without a primary win under his belt, and reportedly organizing zero campaign events during the past week, it’s time to wonder: is this it?

Raking in only $3.27 million, Paul doled out more than he received in February, spending $3.54 million in the same amount of time. According to newly released FEC filings, his campaign now has only $1.36 million on hand—also a record low for the close of a reporting period this election cycle. (Paul finished January in better shape, but just slightly, with $1.64 million on hand.)

Granted, most of the Republican candidates spent more than they raised in February; it’s inevitable, considering the malicious, marathon nominating season. There's also the fact that seven primaries were held over the course of the month, compared to just four in January.

But in Ron Paul’s case, the picture has looked this way for a while: the last time his campaign reported making more money than it was spending was in October.

Bad signs

Throughout March, there have been signs that the campaign is on unsure footing financially. After a disappointing Super Tuesday, Paul sent an e-mail to supporters with the subject line “My Status as a Candidate," reminding them that the delegate race was far from over, and that his campaign would continue to solicit contributions.

“We run a debt-free campaign,” Paul wrote, “and we pushed our resources to do all we could on Super Tuesday.”

The less-than-stellar result of said push prompted a renewed fundraising effort. But days after this e-mail first went out, a duplicate copy was sent from another address at Paul’s campaign website, this time with an introduction from “Elizabeth N.”

“Dear Liberty Activist,” it began, “Dr. Paul is concerned he didn’t hear from you and asked me to forward you his email again.”

Two days later, on March 11, the campaign sent out another duplicate e-mail. This time it was from Senator Rand Paul, the candidate’s son, with a similar introduction.

“I’m forwarding this email from my dad to you just in case you didn’t have a chance to read it,” he wrote.

Are these the communiqués of a campaign with a healthy financial outlook? If he could run on enthusiasm alone, Paul would be riding high; it’s no secret that Mitt Romney’s supporters aren’t exactly foaming at the mouth. But when it comes to cash, all signs point to Ron Paul’s well drying up, slowly but surely.

Sights set on Tampa

One might think that without strong fundraising or a single victory in any primary or caucus thus far, Paul’s campaign and his supporters would see the writing on the wall.

Instead, all they see is Tampa Bay, Florida, where the Republican nominating convention will be held this August.

“That’s where the nominee is really decided,” said Tom Mullen, a writer for The fan site, which is unaffiliated with the campaign, aggregates stories about the libertarian candidate, hosts open threads, and publishes original content. Ads for Ron Paul’s books and merchandise pepper the homepage, along with links to other fan pages and community forums.

“We’re still very enthusiastic,” said Mullen. “A brokered convention, while still unlikely, gets more likely every day. That’s positive for Ron Paul, because his supporters are much more committed to him and his platform than maybe a Mitt Romney supporter who used to be a Rick Santorum supporter, or vice versa.”

Ironically, Paul could benefit from a brokered convention even if he’s not the reason it’s brokered. If Rick Santorum stays in the race through August and continues to spoil Romney in states here and there, the few delegates Paul has picked up so far may have an opportunity to make their impassioned case to a room of divided, tepid backers come August. This assumes Romney hasn't clinched enough delegates by then to win the nomination in the convention's first round of voting

That’s just about Paul’s only hope at this point. Let's be honest: it's really unlikely. But it’s not impossible.

Leaning on grassroots strategy, donations

The campaign and supporters have had to turn to such micro-strategizing in order to justify staying in the race and soliciting donations. In another e-mail sent out by the campaign after last night’s primary results were announced, Paul touted winning 57 percent of delegates last Saturday…in Greene Country, Missouri. It’s worth getting excited about, Paul says, because there’s ground-level momentum in some parts of a state where delegates aren’t bound by statewide results.

To some extent, supporters need to understand the minutiae of the Republican nominating process—and hone in on the silver lining—in order to remain enthusiastic about Paul: they need to become well-versed in how delegate math works; what it means to for a delegate to be "bound" or "unbound"; what exactly happens at the nominating convention; when and where campaigns find it strategic to come out strong or lay low.

“We’ve hit a group of states where Ron Paul has consciously not pushed as hard,” Tom Mullen said. “There are states coming up where he’s got a better chance, and I think you’ll see a harder push.”

Another caveat for those weak fundraising totals: Paul doesn’t have a Sheldon Adelson or a Foster Friess bankrolling certain elements of his election effort. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel had been a sort of angel investor in Paul’s Endorse Libery SuperPAC, but didn’t contribute any money to the organization in February.

“Most of Ron Paul’s contributions come from people like you or me,” Mullen noted. “Not big corporations or people with a vested interest.”

And while Paul may have just had his worst fundraising month so far, it was still better than Newt Gingrich's: Paul received more money in February than Gingrich ($2.63 million), who also finished behind Paul in the Illinois primary.

Right now it appears that the former Speaker of the House is the weakest link, not the libertarian Congressman from Texas. Under the circumstances, it wouldn't make sense for him to drop out before Newt.

But Paul's long-term strategy relies on small donors, and it’s tough to keep tapping them for money, especially given the shape of the economy. Lest there be any confusion about Ron Paul’s resolve to continue the campaign, he’s scheduled another “Money Bomb” fundraiser for this Friday.

Supporters seem to share his resolve; the campaign can only hope that continues to translate into donations down the stretch, and a handful of committed delegates come the convention. Considering all the disappointments he's weathered so far, it’s hard to imagine that anything but a dearth of cash would keep Ron Paul from running all the way to Tampa and, the faithful hope, beyond.


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Comments [15]


last week's "debate" was a schoolyard brawl
because of the ineffective moderator there were no ground rules
obama came prepared to explain his programs
romney came prepared to attack and deny
obama should have realized what was happening in the first ten minutes

Oct. 11 2012 08:46 PM
AHC from Florida

Bob Waters
Waiting for Ron Paul to announce his independent bid for president to donate. Why waste good money and a sorry excuse of a party like the GOP.


Apr. 14 2012 12:44 PM

I am one of the "small donors", and I have unfortunately already given Ron Paul the maximum of $2500. I must now rely on inviting others to donate. I too will not vote for anyone else.

Mar. 23 2012 05:16 PM
Robert Jones from Virginia Beach, VA

I'm a new Ron Paul supporter and I'll be donating. Who believes the media nonsense anymore? And establishment Democrat vs establishment Republican... yeah, right, like there's a difference. Both grow government through massive entitlement and never-ending war, both take our liberties away with Patriot Act and NDAA, both hamstring the free markets with hyper-regulation and excessive bureaucratic interference, both erode our currency by spending way too much, both bail out their buddy donor corporations and nations, both subsidize globalist enterprises and wealth redistribution schemes, neither challenges the private money cartel led by the Federal Reserve, both use it to loot us endlessly. The political establishment didn't count on the Internet waking us up. Keep trying to marginalize Dr Ron Paul, people already don't trust media. We are already learning to investigate the opposite of what we are being told by the "mainstream." The country is waking up and old media just can't believe they're losing their grip. The future belongs to liberty. Not even educational propaganda can stop this movement now, it's too late, we know too much. THANK YOU RON PAUL !!

Mar. 23 2012 02:03 AM
Karen and Don

The USS Liberty isn't going down. Ron Paul has our votes. Period. Even if he died the movement isn't. We are not going to sit idly by and let the republic be turned into a crony corporate fascist benevolent dictatorship anymore. Our children deserve a better legacy... We are turning over the moneychangers tables in the temple. We are coming and not backing down. Who is free and who is brave, when they are at a county fair eating icecream and watching fireworks? Everyone. But who is free and brave when faced with the business end of government? Ron Paul 2012 and beyond

Mar. 23 2012 01:49 AM

Ron Paul is the only Republican candidate that can draw a huge crowd. His supporters raise 36 million, second only to Goldman Sachs's chosen candidates. He has the majority support from the independents, military and young people, making him the only one who can beat Obama. Yet you continue to try and minimize the most popular candidate we have had in generations because individual freedom scares the hand that feeds you. It is truly ironic that individuality is not a trait shared by everyone. My family and I will vote for no other than Ron Paul.

Mar. 23 2012 01:30 AM
Bob Waters

Waiting for Ron Paul to announce his independent bid for president to donate. Why waste good money and a sorry excuse of a party like the GOP.

Mar. 23 2012 01:24 AM
Crocket Tubbs

Perhaps around the time this article was written Paul has taken to making youtube videos begging for handouts.

Mar. 23 2012 12:25 AM
Louis Nardozi from Pensacola

One thing you might be missing. There are tens of thousands of us who held our tongues after 2008 and were made delegates - quietly supporting whoever was elected in the fake primaries. We watch you cheating and said nothing. When our time to vote comes, we will vote for the candidate who 'won' without a word of protest. Once that first vote is over, though - we will NEVER for for anyone but Paul. The noise we make at the convention will be broadcast across the nation. NO ONE who watches will doubt who the Republican Party wants as its candidate. Will you throw the election to O'bama just to keep us out? Keep in mind, the whole nation will see what you do.

Mar. 23 2012 12:23 AM

I am voting my conscience, no other alternative... Ron Paul 2012!

Mar. 22 2012 11:13 PM

Ron Paul or no one at all. I can't wait to vote for him in the NY primary. Boomers for Ron Paul!

Mar. 22 2012 07:10 PM
D Smith

@Robert Fallin - Thanks for the inspiration! That's another $100 donation going to Ron Paul from this small supporter.

Stop confusing manners and thought for weakness and, you too, could find yourself voting for the only honest candidate in the bunch.

Ron Paul on none at all!

Mar. 22 2012 03:55 PM

Gee, if you factor in all the documented election fraud, he's probably done better than what's reported. But ultimately, he's building a movement, not trying to win the Miss America pageant.

It's Ron Paul or continued statism/fascism. You were warned.

Mar. 22 2012 02:47 PM

You know, I was going to post a response to your article, but it's just not worth it. Your leanings are so obvious. One thing I will make comment on, simply to make sure you stop giving misinformation to your few readers. There is no libertarian Congressman from Texas currently serving in the house. If you would simply, obviously too hard for you, check the congressional roster, you would know this fact.

Mar. 22 2012 02:25 PM
Robert Fallin

Of course the small donors are tapped out, but not for the reason you say. The small donors are fed up with Ron Paul's incompetent campaign media staff. The "racist newsletters," "isolationist foreign policy" and "blame America for 911" issues were all burdens in the 2008 campaign and should have been addressed then. But, no, the "racist newsletters" were use to break Ron Paul's momentum in Iowa and were only cleared up after news reporter Ben Swann identified the culprit, not Ron Paul nor the campaign. The foreign policy myths could have been easily cleaned up by testimonials
from Middle East, Military and Counterintelligence experts. But, no, the campaign would rather spend money on clever stuff like the "Star Wars" and "Big Dogs" ads. The campaign should have broadcast foreign policy ads BEFORE Iowa or at least by New Hampshire. South Carolina voters aren't really that much different than Iowa voters, yet Paul had sunk to a distant fourth by South Carolina, thanks to failing to rebut attacks by Gingrich, Santorum and practically every pundit on Fox News, including the moderator of the foreign policy debate held just before South Carolina.

Ron Paul is not totally without fault in this. He signs off on the ads and he did a very wimpy job standing up for himself when denied rebuttal time at the debates, at least until the last one. I know several female friends who like Ron Paul, but see him as weak, just because of this.

Mar. 22 2012 02:24 PM

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