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Even with his impressive, web-driven gains, long time Texas congressman Dr. Ron Paul’s insurgent campaign for the Republican presidential nomination may strike some as a lost cause. Indeed, his spirited criticism of George W. Bush’s foreign policy and the war in Iraq is a counterintuitive selling-point in a party that prizes political loyalty and discipline. On the other hand, his unusual combination of anti-interventionist foreign policy views and “constitutionalist” views in favor of a radically smaller government has definitely struck a chord with young people and disaffected conservatives, while igniting interest, if not support, among many progressives. While Paul’s national numbers remain low, the loyalty of his followers and his surprising fundraising strength has attracted interest and consternation from pundits across the political spectrum.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1935, Dr. Paul grew up a classic self-made man, paying his own way through his college via a series of odd jobs. After graduating, he married his high school sweetheart, Carol Wells. Not long after, he began medical school at North Carolina’s Duke University, but was drafted into the Air Force before completing his degree.

Dr. Paul eventually left the Air Force, where’d been working as a flight surgeon, for the Air National Guard and was able to complete his medical studies and eventually hang out his shingle in Lake Jackson, Texas as an ob/gyn. Through most of his political career, the almost miraculously energetic Paul remained a practicing obstetrician and is said to have delivered an astonishing 4,000 babies. Among Ron and Carol Paul’s five children, three have become physicians themselves — doing so without student loans because of the Paul family’s opposition to government subsidized programs.

In and out of his local congressional seat since 1976, Dr. Paul has been notable for his philosophical consistency in all areas of his life. He has famously refused his congressional pension, and has also turned down government money in his medical practice — treating some poor patients for free, arranging payment plans with others. In his political life, he has aligned himself with economic and political beliefs considered marginal or even extreme by most mainstream observers, including his ardent support for returning U.S. currency to a “hard money” gold or silver standard, and his call for the eventual abolition of a wide swath of government agencies including the Federal Reserve, the Department of Education, and most especially the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Though Dr. Paul disputes charges that he is an isolationist, he is distrustful of a international bodies and advocates the eventual United States withdrawal from NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, NATO, the World Bank and the U.N. and continued non-membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC), a rare example of his being in step with most other Republicans and right-leaning Democrats. He also participated in a 1999 lawsuit against President Bill Clinton, suing him for the U.S. intervention in Kosovo on constitutional grounds.

In general, Dr. Paul advocates a strict “originalist” reading of the constitution. Some trace his belief in radically shrinking the government to his conviction that many U.S. agencies are simply not permitted under the original framers’ intent.

Over the years, he has been lost his congressional seat at various times, but he remained active in politics throughout. During the early-eighties he gave-up his house seat to Tom Delay and then ran in the Republican senatorial primary, losing to Phil Gramm. Increasingly disenchanted with Ronald Reagan’s deficit spending, in 1988 he ran for President as the candidate of the Libertarian Party, though he retained his Republican Party membership. He finally returned to the GOP and his old congressional seat in 1996, and has remained there since. In office, Dr. Paul has attracted attention for his unusually personal form of constituent service, which he admits is largely intended to compensate for the strictness of his limited government positions and his stance against most government aid.

Since officially announcing his run for the Republican nomination in 2007, Paul has become something of an Internet phenomenon, his integrity, consistency, and grandfatherly demeanor no doubt appealing to younger voters innately distrustful of traditional politicians, as well as the growing number of conservatives deeply angered by the Bush Administration. Though his campaign has grown steadily and attracted surprised attention from pundits for Internet-driven successes, Dr. Paul’s challenge is to run as political maverick in a party where mavericks are routinely run out of the stable.

Ron Paul on the Web

A very lengthy and detailed look at Dr. Paul’s unusual life and political philosophy.

Ron Paul 2008
The sophisticated official website of the Ron Paul for President campaign. Includes detailed campaign information, press releases, links to the many online resources utilized by Paul supporters and his official YouTube page.

United States Representative Ron Paul
The official web site of Dr. Paul’s congressional office. Features his weekly column, “Texas Straight Talk.”

Dr. Paul’s very elaborate MySpace page includes videos, campaign updates, more information on his position and, of course, his favorite music (Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant”), books (mostly politics and economics, but also Dr. Zhivago) and his hero, Mahatma Gandhi.

Congressman Ron Paul: Archives
An assortment of articles by Ron Paul.

Ron Paul’s Campus Army
An MTV news articles discussing Dr. Paul’s attraction to some younger voters.

“The Conservative Case Against Ron Paul”
Townhall’s John Hawkins explains why he thinks mainstream conservatives should not support Dr. Paul.

“Life is Really Not Fair”
Conservative group blog RedState.com openly bans new users from advocating for Ron Paul.

Ron Paul’s Record in Congress
Blogger David Neiwert cautions liberals and progressives that Dr. Paul is definitely not one of them, detailing his pro-life positions and more.

Ron Paul Distortions and Smears
Partially in response to Neiwart’s post, liberal blogger and constitutional attorney Glen Greenwald defends Ron Paul against charges of extremism, while admitting that liberals and Dr. Paul have much to disagree about. Part of a series of Paul posts from a blogger noted for his outspoken positions and fierce opposition to the Bush Administration.

On YouTube

RonPaul: TeaParty ‘07
A compilation of clips celebrating Dr. Paul and his recent fundraising gains.

Congressman Ron Paul Visits My Dormroom

The student sometimes known as James Kotecki, sometimes known as Emergency Cheese, interviews Dr. Paul. The first of a series of interviews with candidates of both parties conducted by Kotecki.

Congressman Ron Paul at the First GOP Debate
Dr. Paul outlines a number of positions.

Terrorism: Ron Paul vs. Giuliani @ SC Debate
A sharp exchange at a Fox News debate that, intriguingly enough, boosted both the Paul and Giuliani campaigns.

On the Campaign Trail

Initially dismissed as a marginal candidate, pundits and news writers stood up and took notice when supporters raised $4.2 million on November 5th (Guy Fawkes Day) for the Paul campaign, an all-time Republican record. YouTube clips and mashups from the highly controversial movie version of “V for Vendetta” (a film particularly despised by neoconservative and pro-Iraq war bloggers) were used by some supporters to increase enthusiasm.

Polling also indicates that, with eight percent of the vote, Paul has pulled slightly ahead of both Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee in the key primary state of New Hampshire, though obviously leaving him well behind current frontrunners Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. These gains have generated considerable airtime and ink for the Paul campaign with talk of increased momentum for the campaign.

The Quotable Ron Paul:

On economics:

“Capitalism should not be condemned, since we haven't had capitalism.”

On the war in Iraq:

“Clichés about supporting the troops are designed to distract from failed policies, policies promoted by powerful special interests that benefit from war, anything to steer the discussion away from the real reasons the war in Iraq will not end anytime soon.”

On “balancing” liberty and security:

“Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives.”

On why his foreign policy is a conservative foreign policy:

“How did we win the election in the year 2000? We talked about a humble foreign policy: No nation-building; don't police the world. That's conservative, it's Republican, it's pro-American - it follows the founding fathers. And, besides, it follows the Constitution.”

On his opponents tactics:

“I have never met anyone who did not support our troops. Sometimes, however, we hear accusations that someone or some group does not support the men and women serving in our Armed Forces. But this is pure demagoguery, and it is intellectually dishonest.”

On education:

“In the free society envisioned by the founders, schools are held accountable to parents, not federal bureaucrats.”

On monetary policy:

“When the federal government spends more each year than it collects in tax revenues, it has three choices: It can raise taxes, print money, or borrow money. While these actions may benefit politicians, all three options are bad for average Americans.”

On the “War on Drugs”:

“You wanna get rid of drug crime in this country? Fine, let's just get rid of all the drug laws.”

On presidential priorities:

“I reject the notion that we need a president to run our lives, plan the economy, or police the world...It is much more important to protect individual liberty and privacy than to make government even more secretive and powerful.”

On government:

“When one gets in bed with government, one must expect the diseases it spreads.”

Comments, questions and suggestions can be sent to Gerardo Orlando at editor@orlandoreport.com.