Republican Presidential hopeful Ron Paul continued his surprising climb from obscurity this week with an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and a strong showing in yet another CNN poll following Tuesday night’s Republican debate in New Hampshire.
Although most pundits gave the edge to McCain as the overall winner, a poll on CNN.com Wednesday had Paul as the clear winner by a huge margin. This follows a trend recently that has seen a surge in Internet fundraising and online support for the Texas congressman similar to the surge the Web gave to Howard Dean in 2004. While some have questioned whether it is a groundswell or a well-organized campaign by a few zealous supporters, the fact remains that Rep. Paul is moving out of the so-called “second tier” of candidates.
ABC News reported that on The Daily Show, Stewart noted that even people who don’t agree with Paul’s message have to respect his consistency.
“What is so interesting about Congressman Ron Paul is you appear to have consistent principled integrity,” Stewart said. “Americans don’t usually go for that,” he added ironically. You seem to practice what you preach. You seem to preach consistently, even though people might disagree with the message.”
“I like to think that I introduced a brand-new idea into this campaign,” Paul replied. “I have even suggested that we follow the constitution,” he added with his own bit of irony.
Paul is the only Republican Presidential candidate who opposes the Iraq war and has opposed it since 2002. “I don’t believe in spreading (Liberty) with guns,” Paul said. “We should spread it by setting a good example and get others to emulate us but not to try to force it on other people.”
Paul also told Stewart he identifies as a Libertarian more than a Republican, but that it’s hard in the United States to operate outside the two-party system. “You almost have to be Ross Perot to get on the ballot,” Paul said.
During the debate Tuesday night, Paul continued his criticism of the war and of President Bush’s policies. Speaking of his opposition to government subsidies for the oil industry he said, “Why did we go to the Middle East? Our foreign policy is designed to protect our oil interests. We succumbed to the temptation of going out and fighting war to secure oil interests.”
Responding to a question about the Iraqi government he said: “We’re not fighting a military battle. We’re in a different type of warfare right now. So the sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can make sure that no more Americans will die. We have a lot of goodness in this country. And we should promote it, but never through the barrel of a gun. We should do it by setting good standards, motivating people and have them want to emulate us.”
Z. Byron Wolf, “Jon Stewart Respects Ron Paul.” ABC News
CNN.com online poll, URL: (http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/debates/scorecard/gop.debate/)