WASHINGTON — Rep. Ron Paul disclosed more than $5 million in third-quarter fund raising for his insurgent Republican presidential bid, the only Republican in the field so far to report increased donations.
While the Texas lawmaker remains a second-tier candidate in a party field dominated by the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, his grass-roots campaign continues to build steam, thanks to thousands of small donors over the Internet.
Campaign spokesman Jesse Benton estimates that as much as 80% of the campaign’s donations are received online. In the final week of the third quarter, Dr. Paul, a licensed obstetrician, raised $1.2 million in Internet donations alone. The $5 million haul more than doubles his $2.4 million showing in the second quarter.
The funds will allow him to increase staff from 44 to 50 aides and to conduct his first major media buy heading into the crucial early primaries. The campaign has set a goal of $12 million for the fourth quarter.
Dr. Paul’s fund-raising successes are a sign of a fluid Republican presidential race. His $5 million is half the approximate $10 million that Messrs. Giuliani and Romney each are expected to report, although neither candidate has officially released numbers. Former Sen. Fred Thompson is expected to report around $8 million in third-quarter fund raising.
Mr. Benton said the ranks of Paul supporters include Republicans attracted by his libertarian conservatism and opposition to the Iraq war. The campaign has enjoyed an aggressive network of Internet activists who use online communities such as MySpace and YouTube to promote his candidacy. “He’s got a message that resonates with people right now,” Mr. Benton said. “Other Republicans have lost their way. They are not conservatives, and they support an unpopular war.”
By contrast, Mr. McCain is betting on success in Iraq. He has struggled financially and is expected to report numbers on par with Dr. Paul. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also leads Dr. Paul in the polls, but raised an estimated $1 million in the third quarter.
Source: Wall Street Journal