Watch out for Ron Paul.
The Texas congressman has dominated most of the early Republican straw polls, thanks to an army of ardent, mostly younger supporters who flood conservative confabs around the country to show their support for the libertarian icon.
Mr. Paul, who has more money in the bank than all of his GOP rivals except for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is now making a strong push to win the straw poll that matters most, the Iowa straw poll in Ames on Aug. 13.
It presents Mr. Paul, a libertarian who has called for the end of the Federal Reserve, a genuine opportunity to prove his following is stronger this year than it was four years ago. In 2008, he finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
At the very least, it’s a chance to hobble another Republican in the field.
With Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann widely expected to win the Iowa straw poll, a second-place finish by Mr. Paul could bump former Tim Pawlenty into third – a finish that could hurt the former Minnesota governor’s campaign.
As of Friday, the Paul campaign had spent $170,000 to buy or reserve time for ads on radio and cable-TV in Iowa, according to a tally of ad spending compiled by a rival campaign. That gives him the second biggest media footprint in the state behind former Mr. Pawlenty.
Mr. Pawlenty is desperate to pull off a strong performance in Ames as he continues to lag in most public polls, both in Iowa and nationally. His campaign reserved nearly $200,000 in broadcast television time ahead of the Iowa straw poll as he continues to introduce himself to Republicans in the Hawkeye State, according to the same tally of media buying. That brought his total spending on radio and television advertising in the state to $436,991, or roughly a tenth of all the money he raised in his first three months as a candidate for the White House. This week, Mr. Pawlenty will tour Iowa in an R.V., with most of the stops less than an hour’s drive from Ames.
Meanwhile, Mr. Paul, in his third White House bid, has flown largely under the radar, even though a tea-party movement he helped spawn remains a potent force in Republican politics. Full Story
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