NASHUA, N.H., 12:38 p.m. — Excitement is growing over a candidate who once didn’t seem to have an ice cube’s hope in hell of getting a vote in New Hampshire.
“A saying that a lot of Ron Paul supporters have,” says Pennsylvanian Ron Paul campaigner Jim McDaniel, “is that ‘Dr. Paul cured my apathy.’”
Paul’s support on Tuesday was unprecedented, as supporters mobbed the streets of Concord with signs and chants. Indeed, his presence was just as visible as any of the other candidates’ — particularly among the youth.
Says a BBC cameraman, “They’re absolutely everywhere. I’m fed up of Ron Paul signs.”
Despite Paul’s age, McDaniel said the issues he discusses have grabbed the imagination of a growing base of younger supporters.
“Young people like it because they see he’s principled,” McDaniel says. “Yes, he’s the oldest candidate running, but he obviously draws a huge young group of supporters.”
Main Street was certainly a hive of activity Tuesday, with people rushing in and out with banners and posters — and many of the youngest campaigners seeming to be fighting for Paul.
Timothy Fusaro, an eighth grader, said he got involved because of his politically active father. “I visited [Paul’s] Web site a couple of times, and I like what he stands for,” Tommy said.
Matt, Timothy’s older brother, said he’s worked on several campaigns. “It’s just amazing to see how a guy that wasn’t supposed to have any chance has so much support from so many different types of people. I think it’s because of his emphasis on the constitution, and how the government needs to be small and not run our lives,” Matt says, “That’s what I like about Ron Paul. That’s why I wanted to come up here and get involved.”
“I think he has a huge support here in New Hampshire,” McDaniel says. “It was really the meetup.com groups that got him to say, ‘Hey, the support is out there, the people will be into it.”
McDaniel started a Meetup group in his Pennsylvania town of Harrisburg last May to get out the word about Paul. “Before I knew it, we had 25 people, we had 50 people. As we speak, we have about 215 people.”
McDaniel says support for Paul is not limited to radical conservative types. ”If you were to come to one of our meetings, there’s African-Americans, there’s Hispanics. We have some Russians in our group, people who immigrated here legally. And a lot of them are really upset that people would come into this country illegally,” he says.
But, despite all the visible support, Paul ended up with only 8 percent of the vote here in New Hampshire. And only time will tell what the candidate’s next move will be.