Writes Seth McLaughlin at The Washington Times:
Rep. Ron Paul and his loyal band of supporters were uncharacteristically missing from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last week — and high-profile Republican leaders say the party can’t afford for that to happen in November if the GOP is to win the White House.
They pointed to, and applauded, the 76-year-old Texan’s unique ability to attract young, independent and first-time voters, giving his campaign a consistent level of energy and enthusiasm that is sometimes lacking in the other presidential camps…
Mr. Paul’s supporters say he is the most genuine candidate and offers a unique brand of politics that doesn’t fit neatly into the Democratic-Republican duopoly that has ruled Washington for decades. Before it was chic on Capitol Hill, they say, he defended the U.S. Constitution, advocated for individual liberty and pushed for limited government through less spending and less taxation.
He also has challenged the police-the-world mentality that he blames for steering the nation into military conflicts that have cost thousands of lives, billions of dollars and diminished the nation’s reputation on the global stage…
David Keene, former ACU chairman, said the party’s slow embrace of Paul supporters reminded him of how Republicans were reluctant to welcome the evangelicals who followed Pat Robertson into the political fray during his 1988 presidential bid. In one instance, Mr. Keene recalled, a national committeeman likened attending a Robertson campaign meeting to “the bar scene in ‘Star Wars.’ “
“Party leaders, like the leader of any club, love to have your dues, or your vote in this case, but they really don’t want you hanging around voting for the offices or the leadership,” Mr. Keene said. “[Evangelicals] came in, they were attracted by Pat Robertson, who couldn’t get nominated, but attracted hundreds of thousands of millions of people. Some of those people went home because they were just attracted to him, as will some of the Paul people, and some of them stuck around, and today a lot of them are leaders in the party…”
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, his son, appeared at the event on his father’s behalf and told The Washington Times that he has noticed the other GOP candidates have started being “friendlier to my father.”
“What the Republican Party needs to understand about the Ron Paul people: They are new to the party, they’re independents, they have youth and energy — all those things the Republican nominee is going to need,” the younger Mr. Paul told The Times…
Source: Paulitical Ticker with Jack Hunter