As the Democratic presidential candidates held pre-primary rallies yesterday in Indiana and North Carolina, and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain spoke to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, another major-party presidential candidate continued his own quest for nomination, headlining a "Freedom Rally" on a Fort Wayne, Ind., university campus.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) told supporters in early March, through a Web video, that he knew he was no longer in the running for the presidency, and aides said his campaign would be "winding down." But it turns out Paul never stopped running for president.
"He put out a video in which he said victory in the conventional sense was not available to us, but there was still much the campaign could try to accomplish," Ron Paul 2008 spokesman Jesse Benton said yesterday. "People in the press reported that as him dropping out when he was not dropping out."
Paul's campaign has shrunk from a high of more than 150 staffers before Super Tuesday on Feb. 5 to around 15, according to Benton, and his record-breaking Internet fundraising operation has turned off its online ticker. But with more than $4 million in cash on hand, his campaign says there is no good reason to stop.
He is still racking up votes, for one thing, having garnered 16 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania's Republican primary on April 22. And his supporters are still active at the grass-roots level: GOP officials abruptly canceled the Nevada state convention when it became clear that Paul's backers outnumbered those for McCain and stood ready to take control of the delegate process.
Paul's campaign hopes to turn such support into upward of 50 delegates for the party's national convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul in September, where he is gunning for a speaking slot.
There's also the matter of Paul's book. "The Revolution: A Manifesto" hit stores on April 30. His campaign is prohibited from selling it, but a continued presence on the speaking circuit is sure to stoke sales. (The book debuted at No. 1 on Amazon.com's "Hot New Releases in Books.")
The former Libertarian Party nominee has "no plans and no intentions" to switch to any other party when the time comes to end his bid, Benton said.
"If it was just for the presidency, it would have ended a long time ago," says supporter Tom Martin, 50, a database administrator from State College, Pa. "The idea was to reinvigorate the Republican Party back to its principles and, more than that, to reinvigorate the American people back to its principles."