Ron Paul's $6 Million Haul Makes History
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
The presidential campaign of Congressman Ron Paul will go into the political record books. The Republican may be considered a long shot, but yesterday, he raised more money on the Internet in one day than any other candidate. The total, $6 million. So how does someone who runs a tiny, outsider campaign spend that much money?
NPR's Robert Smith reports from Iowa.
ROBERT SMITH: Six million dollars would buy a lot of Christmas presents for any campaign - ads, signs, flyers. But what Ron Paul is shopping for is a little respect.
Representative RON PAUL (Republican, Texas; Presidential Candidate): Because money talks. If that's the way it is, and that's the way, I think, our supporters believe, they put money into the campaign, it will draw the necessary conventional attention, and it has worked.
SMITH: The anti-war, anti-tax, anti-regulation Republican has been a phenom on the Internet. But no one seemed to know if all that buzz was just a couple of guys in their parents' basement or a true movement. But to paraphrase Shakira, these bucks don't lie. Fifty thousand people put their credit cards down for Paul yesterday, half of them new donors. And the amazing thing is it's the second month in a row he's broken the one-day fundraising record organized totally by his supporters.
No one is more surprised than Ron Paul himself.
Rep. PAUL: I wasn't the optimist. I was the one that was reluctant. A lot of -even the strong optimist would've never predicted that, you know, we'd have a day like yesterday. What can you possibly spend this money on? You know, it's a challenge to do it efficiently and productively.
SMITH: You see, the TV airwaves in Iowa and New Hampshire are already saturated with ads. His events already draw a crowd. Paul fans even launched their own Ron Paul blimp last weekend. What do you get for the man who has everything, except good poll numbers? In downtown Des Moines, I found three of the people who gave online and asked for suggestions.
Mr. AARON KING(ph) (Ron Paul Supporter): There's TV, there's radio and a lot of it are already bought up. I mean, where else do you go, you know? Maybe some commercials before a movie, at the movie theatre or something like that?
Mr. CRAIG FRASIER(ph) (Ron Paul Supporter): Advertise on MySpace, advertise through Google, advertise - I mean, anything short of span.
Mr. LUKE BORNIEZ(PH) (Ron Paul Supporter): Goodness gracious, I don't know, skywriters maybe? It's - I mean, what do you do with $6 million?
SMITH: Aaron King, Craig Frasier and Luke Borniez all agree that the $18 million total that Paul raised this fall will last a long time, perhaps even long enough for a third party run. So I put the question to Congressman Ron Paul.
Rep. PAUL: It certainly is feasible.
SMITH: Are you going to do it?
Rep. PAUL: I have no plans to do that. We're not even out of primary race yet.
SMITH: One place the money clearly isn't being spent is on speechwriters and image consultants. The morning after he set the fundraising record, he stopped by a financial services company to give them his standard dense lecture on economic theories.
Rep. PAUL: So I would legalize the use of an alternative currency here. And then you would have the option, there would be another instrument out there that would be…
SMITH: Even though Ron Paul had just made campaign fundraising history, no TV news camera showed up at the speech. Maybe political respect has a higher price tag than Paul thought. He told me afterwards that the mainstream media just hopes he'll go away. But if these millions buy him anything, it's the ability to stick around.
Robert Smith, NPR News, Des Moines.