Sen. Barack Obama has Oprah Winfrey, Sen. Hillary Clinton has Magic Johnson and Rep. Ron Paul, the online star of the primary race, has Sean Morley, aka Val Venis, the popular adult film star-turned-WWE pro wrestler.
And like many of the Paulites, the Texas congressman’s loyal, Web-savvy supporters, Morley is blogging about Paul on his own site. “I can’t really say what my support means. But, you know, I first heard about him two years ago, and I’ve studied his voting record and I’m convinced that more than any candidate, Republican or Democrat, he’s the most principled candidate out there,” Morley, a libertarian, told The Trail this afternoon. “By the way, I’m at Denny’s outside LAX. Here for a fight later tonight. I’m wearing a Ron Paul T-shirt. It’s a great day for Ron Paul, you know.”
Today, Nov. 5, marks not only Paul’s best fundraising haul in a single day — more than $2.5 million by 6 p.m. EST — but online observers say it’s also the most money raised by a candidate on the Web in a single day. And the day’s not over yet. “Damn. Wow. Um, that’s pretty awesome,” said a stunned Jerome Armstrong who served as Howard Dean’s online strategist. Armstrong, the founder of the popular blog MyDD, said Dean raised as much as $700,000 in one day toward the end of the primary race. “But not a million,” Armstrong added. “What Paul is doing — or what his supporters are doing — is really impressive.” You can view all the fundraising data here.
On the online left, Sen. Chris Dodd is getting a lot of love, especially among the liberal bloggers. On the online right, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is attracting more visitors to his Web site than the rest of the Republican field — save Paul himself, depending on which traffic site you’re looking at. But the online political sphere at large has been buzzing about Paul since the beginning of the year. Reporters who write about Paul — or who fail to mention Paul in their stories — are familiar with the e-mails, some of them downright incredulous.
His popularity in online polls has been questioned by some online observers. A study by the University of Alabama concluded that illegal spammers storm sites, though Gary Warner, who directed the research, said Paul’s campaign probably has nothing to do with it. Annoyed by the Paulites who storm RedState.com, the popular conservative site, the folks at RedState banned them from commenting on the site.
But money talks loudly in politics, and Paul’s fundraising haul has surprised political analysts. Last quarter, Paul raised $5.1 million — close to Sen. John McCain’s total and five times more than Huckabee’s. Energized by the grassroots support, especially online, Paul has set a very high goal for the campaign: raise $12 million for the fourth quarter. And, in a bold and innovative move, Paul’s Web site is streaming in real-time the names and towns of all the online donors. In addition to that, a few Paulites got together and picked a day, Nov. 5, to raise as much money as they can. An explainer is on TechPresident.com, the hub of online presidential campaigning.
Morley, the WWE wrestler, hasn’t given money to Paul. He’s Canadian and working on getting his American citizenship. “But I’m still wearing the T-shirts,” Morley said, “blogging about him, telling everyone I know. He’s surprising everyone.”
— Jose Antonio Vargas
Source: Washington Post