By Maggie Kerkman
April 18th 2011
Their policy stances couldn't be any more different but there's something Ron Paul shares in common with President Obama-- at least in terms of campaigning-- and that's enthusiastic support from young people.
In the past month, Paul has crisscrossed the country, hopping from Iowa to New Hampshire and back again, speaking to hundreds of young people at each stop. This week should be no different. Paul, with his new book, Liberty Redefined, coming out tomorrow, will be headed to Mississippi State and Florida State. Organizers from both campuses expect more than a thousand students to attend each event. In Florida, Young Americans for Liberty chapter organizer Patrick O'Sullivan says there are "Facebook groups from Gainesville, Orlando and Sarasota (that I know of) that are set up for people who plan to caravan up to Tallahassee." FSU students collected 1000 signatures in two days to convince Paul to speak on campus. For their part, Mississippi State student collected about 2300 signatures to secure Paul's appearance this week.Paul's gain could be Obama's loss, as Paul supporters may be adding to their numbers by recruiting disaffected young Obama supporters. Young American's for Liberty's national website is calling for Chapters to make a play for disgruntled Obama supporters, saying, "In 2008, voters asked for ‘hope' and ‘change.' Three years later, and it's clear the only change we got was the new face pushing the same basic policies." That message is striking a chord with some. Mississippi State Organizer Benjamin Weinberg says his group has "received some enthusiastic interest from individuals who felt betrayed by President Obama's continuation and expansion of the Bush-presidency's foreign policy."
New and old support alike will be out in force May 5th, the day of the first Republican presidential candidate debate. That's also when Paul supporters will flock to the internet to take part in a "money bomb." For those not familiar with the concept, supporters donate money online within a confined amount of time- in this case, 24 hours. The last Paul money bomb raised $700,000... on President's Day. Paul already has about 1.6 million in his Congressional re-election coffers, according to the latest FEC quarterly report.
Paul may not ever supplant Barack Obama as the darling of the young, but you'd be hard pressed to find another Republican candidate who has such ardent young support so early on in the game.