Ron Paul, the Texas congressman and long-shot Republican presidential contender, refuses to accept also-ran status.
Chants of "President Paul! President Paul!" and signs that read "Paul Revolution" were prominent fixtures this weekend at the California straw poll in Los Angeles, a contest that Paul won, decidedly. Despite his seemingly permanent position as a second-tier candidate, Paul's supporters are fervent enough to propel him in straw polls.
Paul's victory in California comes a month after he nearly overtook Rep. Michele Bachmann in the Ames, Iowa, Straw Poll, and three months after he won the Republican Leadership Conference straw poll.
"They're young people, mostly, who realize our country's in a mess ... and they're very open to the ideas of liberty," Paul told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Paul won in California with 44.9 percent of the vote; Texas Gov. Rick Perry came in second with 29.3 percent; and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was third with 8.8 percent, according to CNN.
Despite his showing in the straw polls, which in many cases have low turnout—833 ballots were cast in California, for instance—Paul is a long shot for his party's nomination. His views on foreign policy and the monetary system in particular put him outside his party's mainstream. For instance, Paul favors limited U.S. intervention abroad, has argued in favor of a gold standard for U.S. currency, and has called the Federal Reserve unconstitutional.
“Make no mistake—this is a person who is not going to win the nomination,” Stephen Hess, a Brookings Institute scholar, told National Journal in May when Paul announced his candidacy.
“But it’s not an inconsequential hat in the ring," Hess added.
In a recent national Gallup poll, Paul beat out Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain, former Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman to finish No. 3, behind Perry and Romney. In that poll, from August, Paul traded places with Bachmann, who had been No. 3 in the prior month's poll.
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