By Ted Thornhill
May 6th 2011
Republican Congressman Ron Paul from Texas raised an astonishing $1m in just one day towards his 2012 challenge for the presidency – and he only trails Obama by seven points according to a poll.
When those surveyed were asked whether they’d prefer Paul or Obama to be in the Oval Office, 45 per cent went for the Texan, compared to 52 per cent for the current President.
It’s certainly a shock result, but the study was conducted before the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, which is likely to give Obama a huge ratings boost.
Cashing in: Texas Congressman Ron Paul received over $1million in donations in just 24 hours
In the just-for-fun general election showdown, run by CNN, Obama was comfortably ahead of other key Republicans.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee trailed Obama by 11 points, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich by 17 points, 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin by 19 and Donald Trump by 22 points.
Ironically, though, within the Republican ranks, Ron Paul isn’t even the most popular politician to challenge for the White House.
Just 10 per cent said that they’d like Paul to be the Republican presidential nomination, with Gingrich level in popularity.
Ahead of them are Palin, with 11 per cent, Romney at 13 per cent, Trump at 14 and Huckabee out in front with 16 per cent of the votes.
As CNN polling director Keating Holland says, everything could change next year: ‘It should be obvious to any political observer that hypothetical general election match-ups at this stage of the game have relatively little predictive value.’
(Buck-ing the trend: Donations flooded in to Ron Paul's 2012 campaign, with his website indicating well over $1m in funding in just 24 hours)
Within the Republican Party Paul is known as a libertarian, and recently put forward the case for the legalisation of drugs.
In an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace, he asked the studio audience: ‘How many people here would use heroin if it were legal? I bet nobody would.’
He added sarcastically: ‘Oh yeah, I need the government to take care of me. I don't want to use heroin, so I need these laws.’
Seventy-five-year-old Paul wasn't always a politician. He served as a flight surgeon in the US Air Force during the 1960s before specialising in gynaecology. He proudly boasts that he’s delivered 4,000 babies.