Ron Paul's Money Machine Churns for Others
The 2008 presidential campaign may be over, but the "revolution" spawned by Rep. Ron Paul's candidacy continues to echo through the political world.
Paul (R-Tex.), capitalizing on a healthy distrust of government and his strident opposition to the war in Iraq, became an Internet phenomenon -- using the Web to raise an astounding $35 million for his long-shot candidacy.
The financial network Paul built during his campaign has, amazingly, continued to reap dividends for two men seeking to be the congressman's political heirs in the 2010 elections.
Rand Paul, who is running for the Senate in Kentucky and is the son of the congressman, has already raised $827,000, even though nearly the entire Republican Party establishment in the Bluegrass State has lined up behind Secretary of State Trey Grayson.
Peter Schiff, an economic adviser to Paul's presidential campaign and a likely senatorial candidate in Connecticut, has raised more than $1 million, although he has yet to officially declare.
Both men have used the "money bomb" approach (encourage all donors to give on a certain day to post large 24-hour totals) to fundraising strategies that Paul pioneered.
Jesse Benton, a former Paul campaign spokesman, said he was not surprised by the amount of money that Rand Paul and Schiff have raised to date.
He called the Paul movement "legitimate" and "real," noting that the Campaign for Liberty -- an organization formed after the campaign and of which Paul serves as honorary chairman -- has raised $4 million since its founding in February.
"These are people who want to return to our traditional values of self-reliance and liberty," Benton added.
It remains to be seen whether Rand Paul or Peter Schiff can turn fundraising capacity into actual votes.
Although Ron Paul raised vast sums of cash and had -- without question -- the most vocal and energized group of supporters on the Republican side, he was never a real factor in any state.
Paul won 10 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses -- good for fourth place -- and crested 20 percent in a handful of primaries and caucuses, including North Dakota (21 percent), Montana (25 percent) and Idaho (24 percent). But, overall, he remained a bit player in the race for the GOP nomination.