Monday, June 27, 2011
Ron Paul’s Anti-Fed Message Gains Respect
When Ron Paul announced four years ago that he was running for president, the congressman from Texas had a tough time attracting attention.
Paul, known for his anti-government views, opposition to the Iraq, Afghan and Libyan conflicts and drive to get rid of the Federal Reserve, stayed in Washington to declare his candidacy for the 2008 Republican nomination on C-Span, the cable television station devoted to government proceedings. His entry earned a one-sentence mention near the end of a Washington Post political story, and little notice elsewhere.
Last month, his venue for announcing another presidential bid was an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” -- a program with more than 4.5 million viewers. He spoke from a rally in New Hampshire, where hundreds of backers drawn to Paul’s message of shrinking government and limiting its reach cheered the 75-year-old great-grandfather.
“During the last campaign people weren’t too interested in what I was saying,” Paul said in an interview. “There’s some respect for it now.”
Paul, a former obstetrician who estimates he’s delivered about 4,000 babies, also has seen his clout grow within Congress, where during most of his 11 full terms he had little influence. This year, he ascended to the helm of the House subcommittee that oversees the Fed. Rand Paul, his son and a Tea-Party favorite who follows his father’s anti-tax, anti-debt politics, joined Paul in Washington in January as a Republican senator from Kentucky, elevating the family brand.
Straw Poll Win
At the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, an annual gathering of party activists that this month featured speeches by several White House aspirants, Paul won a June 18 presidential preference straw poll. The day before, he took the stage at the event to a thundering chant of “Ron Paul” from supporters. Minutes into his speech, several hundred began shouting “Kill the Fed.”
Paul looked on with a smile. “This is wonderful; this is where we have made our greatest stride,” he said. “It’s time we not only audit our Federal Reserve, but in due time get rid of the Federal Reserve.”
The heightened appeal of his efforts was evident in 2010, when the House cleared his legislation to require audits of the central bank’s interest-rate decisions. It was Paul’s ninth attempt at passing legislation to rein in the Fed. A watered- down version of Paul’s measure was included in the financial- regulation law enacted last year, and Paul has vowed to push for greater oversight.
“Anybody who ever thought Ron Paul was a joke was not paying attention,” said Charlie Black, a veteran political strategist who advised Republican presidential nominee John McCain in 2008. “His stature is elevated because his followers did play a big role in the Tea Party movement and the victories for Republicans in 2010.”
In the 2012 campaign, Paul said, rivals no longer dismiss him.
“In the debates last go-around, if I brought up monetary policy they literally would laugh or snicker,” he said. “I don’t think that’s there anymore because people are realizing the current system isn’t working that well.”
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