In Da Newz in Alabama

Here’s a recent local article from the Anniston Star for which I was interviewed. Thanks to Doc for the article text.

Paul unique in his Alabama campaign strategy
By Markeshia Ricks
Star Capitol Correspondent
01-11-2008

MONTGOMERY — Presidential candidates are likely turning their focus to Michigan and South Carolina, but there are signs that they might soon be lavishing some attention and advertising on Alabama.

One candidate, Republican Congressman Ron Paul, appears to be leading the pack. His signs have been popping up all over east Alabama since he announced his candidacy last year, and this week Paul started a radio advertising campaign in Alabama in hopes of raising his profile among voters.

A check with campaign headquarters for all the candidates show that he is the only candidate to buy time with local media outlets.

The ads, which will air on more than 30 stations in the state, will focus on telling people who Paul is: a 10-term congressman who supports low taxes, an obstetrician/gynecologist, a patriot and an advocate of limited government.

Karen Cartee, professor of advertising and public relations at the University of Alabama, said Alabama typically doesn’t attract much advertising because it’s primary is usually so late.

“Because this (primary) has been moved up substantially, there could be a lot more than we’ve previously experienced,” she said. “We’re virtually ignored by everyone in the general election because we don’t have enough Electoral College votes for them to pay attention to us.”

Cartee said advertising dollars didn’t pour into the state in previous elections because Alabama has long been viewed as a guaranteed Republican stronghold.

Democratic frontrunners aren’t taking that view for granted.

Sen. Barack Obama has established three offices in Alabama, and Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has announced that her staff is stepping up efforts in the state.

Unlike Paul, neither Obama nor Clinton announced any intention to spend advertising dollars in the state, however.

Grassroots fervor

Though Paul’s name might not be as recognizable as the top Republican candidates, the 72-year-old’s platform seems to be resonating with political neophytes, independents, Libertarians and disaffected Republicans in Alabama — groups that have been shaking up early primaries in other states.

“The most interesting thing I’ve run into is that there are so many people who have never been involved in politics getting involved,” said Brian Roughton, the Paul campaign’s Alabama coordinator. “I personally was not excited about any of the major Republican candidates because I didn’t really see anybody that was much different.”

For Paul supporters like Roughton, that lack of excitement about any one candidate among Republican voters and independents gives their candidate a shot at the White House — at least until Feb. 5, when states like Alabama hold their primaries.

While fifth-place or worse finishes have caused three Democratic candidates to bow out, finishing fifth has been enough to keep Paul’s campaign alive.

Jess Brown, professor of political science and justice studies at Athens State University, said Paul has been successful in creating buzz about his campaign, but it won’t be enough to make him the Republican nominee for president.

“The interesting thing about Ron Paul is that he’s scoring well enough to be noticed but not well enough to meet the threshold to (win) state primaries,” he said. “He finished with 10 percent in Iowa, but to be in many state primaries you need at least 15 percent”.

Philip Bryan, communication director for the Alabama Republican Party, said a candidate needs at least 20 percent of the vote to be viable, but could still lose if one candidate gets 50 percent of the vote.

Brown said it’s a bit early to spend the big bucks that candidates typically shell out for advertising on television and radio, particularly in Alabama where there is some doubt that an early primary will make much difference.

“They could wait a little longer, but not much longer if they want to do an extensive media buy,” he said. “In my opinion Alabama has not received any advantage with this early primary.”

Though some candidates have participated in high profile events and private fundraisers, Brown said, that’s not much different than they have done in the past.

The man, the message

Carol Hagan said when she began campaigning for Paul in July people had no idea who he was.

“The fact that he went from people asking who he was to getting 10 percent in Iowa is big,” she said. “By the time he gets to Super Duper Tuesday, people will know who he is and his message.”

The Jacksonville resident said she likes Paul because he is a follower of the constitution.

“He has always supported the constitution and voted according to the constitution for the almost 20 years he’s been in Congress,” she said.

Hagan said people in small and rural communities are more self-reliant and they’re drawn to Paul’s message of small government.

“I think that the more he is seen, the more votes he’s going to get,” Hagan said.

New alliances

Paul’s message has been so successful that the Libertarian National Committee wrote a resolution encouraging the Republican to solicit the party’s nomination for the presidency if he’s not the Republican frontrunner after Feb. 5.

Stephen Gordon, who is the chairman of the Alabama Libertarian Party, said Paul’s stance on limited government and low taxes carries weight with Alabamians, particularly those who live in rural communities.

“The closer you get to the rural areas the more individualist and freedom oriented people are,” said Gordon, who also serves as the media coordinator for the Paul campaign in the state. “Alabama has a strong history of being independent minded.”

David Lanoue, professor and chair of political science at the University of Alabama, said depending how the race looks by Feb. 5, Alabama’s primary could be important.

“It’s possible that the nominations could still be very much in the air by Feb. 5,” he said. “On the Republican side it’s easier to envision a situation where Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are still competitive, and that would mean that every state is going to matter.”

Not only will every state matter, but so will every delegate.

“Ron Paul certainly has a very fervent base of support among voters who respond to his message of anti-government, which is very Libertarian,” he said.

Lanoue said Paul could have a strong showing come Feb. 5, but what might hurt him is that he is a Republican running under a Libertarian message.

“His philosophy doesn’t have a clear home in either party,” he said. “While his message has been consistent and appealing to a lot of people, he ultimately may not be the best messenger to deliver it.”

Roughton said he believes Paul’s stance on issues such as illegal immigration and the right to bear arms will influence more voters and bring surprises like those experienced in Iowa.

“Ron Paul has credibility on those issues resonating with Alabamians,” he said. “That’s creating excitement.”

9 Responses to “In Da Newz in Alabama”

  1. Jason Robinson Says:

    As the DNC said in ‘96 ‘It is the economy stupid’.

    Our Nation produces 13.1 trillion dollars of wealth each year, and of that the government takes 2.4 trillion dollars and spends 2.6 trillion dollars. Since the government spends more than it takes, it has developed a debt, which is currently 10 trillion dollars. We have promised to make future expenditures above and beyond what we are currently spending, to an amount of 58 trillion dollars between 2017 and 2040. This works out to an average of 2.5 trillion dollars a year. In addition to this, 4 trillion dollars of the debt will also need to be paid back without any additional sources of revenue, although existing taxation can be increased.

    To put this in perspective, imagine that you work for a company that earns $131,000 of annual revenue, they pay you $23,000 a year, and your budget is $26,000 for the year. At the same time you have $64,000 on the credit cards and $46,000 that you have borrowed from your 401k, and just signed a 30 year mortgage for your parent’s house for $580,000, but the property is condemned. And this is all okay because you have $6.59 in the bank. Your parents are going to give you $1,000 a year until 2017, and then they need you to start paying them back.

    We have established significant control over air travel, but our boarders are open, illegal immigration is not under control, our ports are not secure, and our visa system has not been updated. If the government thought that terrorism is a serious problem, they haven’t done anything to stop it, yet they have stripped our rights and liberties under the banner of terrorism since October of 2001. Although we haven’t plugged any of the holes in our system, there hasn’t been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil for over 6 years. The government spending and the economy will destroy this nation in less than 33 years.

    I believe that Ron Paul is the only candidate from either the Republican or Democratic parties that will even attempt to fix this.

    (Numbers have been obtained from the CIA Fact book.)

  2. Fred C. Says:

    Jason: I’ve been trying to put together something like that for a little, but I could never get the analogies to work right (I was trying to use a parent with kids). Can I get permission to repost this on some RP groups? With credit, of course.

  3. Brad Says:

    Ron Paul is the only candidate that displayed substance and thought process in his answers. The man basses his decision on logic and reason, not emotion. He recognizes that emotion is for guidance not decision making. He is a man of great character and those who question it have obviously not been exposed to the vast amount of essays and speeches this man has given over the years. Circumstantial evidence if repeated enough will bend the weak minded to inaccurate conclusion. Think for yourself; Do not be easily led by the bridle of emotion.

    McCain is a fool if he thinks we are not going into a recession. Bad Economic Records are being set at an unprecedented rate. Things are crashing on a massive scale never seen before. The Idea that McCain

    Romney has the economic savvy and more than likely would be a good president. He is more of a compromiser than I would prefer.

    Huckabee is a slick talking socialist in my opinion. He has great command of the language but is strategically telling people what he thinks they want to hear. He has steadily adopted closer positions to Ron Paul since the first debate.

    Giuliani is just as corrupt as Hillary.

    Thompson is just pretending. No real substance to his positions or character. More of the same.

    Ron Paul is the only candidate that does not blow in the wind and has the wisdom to ask the right questions to allow logical conclusion.

    I vote for virtue; I vote for Ron Paul.

  4. Gene Trosper Says:

    Sayeth Brad:
    “I vote for virtue; I vote for Ron Paul.”

    I vote for Ron Paul as well, but it’s not because of virtue. I know of NO ONE virtuous. I think virtue is a romantic notion. We’re humans. We’re imperfect and make mistakes.

    Like Ron Paul himself has stated: the campaign is not about him, it’s about the message.

  5. Ferenc Says:

    People-People
    I also vote for him no matter what. But,in the last 3 or 4 decades allways the biger lier was a winer. We have 30% stupid who vote Dem. We also have about 25% stupid who vote Rep. no matter what. Hillary or Mc.Cain?
    I don’t see to much different. Only Mr. Dr. Ron Paul who have a positive message.

    God Bless

  6. Tom the Trotskyist Says:

    Brad, I am glad you agree that Huckabee is a socialist. Indeed, Huckabee is part of the Grand Masonic Committee to destroy the constitution and bring the socialist revolution with Barack Obama, Dennis Kucinich and Cynthia McKinney as the ruling triumverate. Sometime in February or March I will be organizing a flag-burning/constitution-burning party, so stay alert.

  7. Derek Says:

    Maybe Paul’s slogan should be “It’s the borders, stupid!”. I’m glad to see him focusing on Alabama and seriously think he can win Alabama. He could do OK in Michigan to get a delegate or 2 and he shouldn’t forget SC because with the system there, if he concentrates on a CD or 2, he can win delegates even if he doesn’t win the state.

  8. paulie Says:

    I’d rather see a slogan like “the borders ARE stupid,” although we won’t see it coming from Ron Paul.

  9. paulie Says:

    It’s entirely too late for anyone to listen to me, but they should have focused a lot more on Michigan.

    Huge state, open primary, Democrats won’t let their delegates vote.

    Massive potential for a crossover vote on peace, drug peace and related issues from Democrats and independents.

    It would (have) be(en) a huge momentum boost going into MLK day money bomb, SC, and Super Tuesday.

    So, what am I missing? Seems like a glaring lack of strategic thinking from here. Of course, there could be factors I don’t know about here. If anyone knows what they are, please let me know.

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