Ron Paul, live at the Vista West!

A reader and sometime letter-writer has sent me this invitation to see Ron Paul tomorrow evening, more or less on my way home from the office:

Dear Mr. Warthen,
    I want to personally invite you to join folks from
across the state and beyond to hear Congressman
Ron Paul speak this Friday night, Nov 2nd at the
West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater, 121
Alexander Street at 7:00 PM. Find out why people
all over the country have awakened from their
political apathy and passionately support this
candidate. In addition, he will appear at the
Grand Opening of the Columbia Headquarters, 1911
Hampton Street, on Saturday at 8:30 AM.
    I sincerely hope you can join us for either or
both of these events and see for yourself the
extraordinary support Ron Paul has in our state.

Jackie Fowler

I may go out of curiosity — to see the crowd, if nothing else. Of course, it will require being able to get away from the office earlier than usual. As I’ve probably mentioned before, Fridays are pretty horrific around here. We get done when we get done, and there’s no walking out before that for either Mike Fitts or me (we’re the only ones able to produce pages with QuarkXpress). Too bad it will be kind of late for video.

Here’s an ethical question for you: By thus giving publicity to someone I consider to be a fringe candidate, am I distorting the event? I think not, in this case. Ron Paul has no chance to win this primary, but the support he does have is obviously passionate, and he’ll probably fill the amphitheater without too much trouble.

In fact — what do you want to bet he draws a better crowd than Rudy Giuliani (a putative front-runner) did the time I went to check him out at the convention center?

38 thoughts on “Ron Paul, live at the Vista West!

  1. Doug Ross

    He’s going to be around for the long haul if the donations are any indicator. The Paul campaign has a goal of raising $12M this quarter… and he’s at 2.6 million after October.
    As of the end of September, Paul had raised over $8 million with half of that coming from donations under $200. As a comparison, only 10% of Rudy’s $30M raised in the same period came from small donors.
    Think about what that means in terms of votes. Would you rather have 25 supporters who gave $100 or 1 who gave $2500?
    The other nice thing about the Paul campaign is that they put the actual dollars raised on the front page of the website. Wonder if any of the struggling candidates like McCain, etc. would dare to be as open with the information???

  2. Doug Ross

    And looking deeper into the fundraising numbers from, it appears that Rudy’s percentage of small dollar donors is by far the smallest. Clinton is at about 20%, Obama = 35%, Romney 20%, McCain = 40%, Edwards = 70%!, Biden = 15% (not surprising – he just doesn’t connect with the “little” people)…
    Rudy’s 12% would make one wonder if his support is an inch wide and a mile deep.

  3. Scott

    “Ron Paul has no chance to win this primary”
    Most people base this assumption on the telephone poll results. Here’s why they can’t be counted on, especially in the case of Ron Paul:
    Most “scientific” telephone polls only include registered Republicans who voted in the 2004 presidential primary. The 2004 primary had an anemic 6.6% turnout on the Republican side. Most participants were pro-war voters supporting an incumbent Bush. These are the least likely people to support Ron Paul’s platform. It is much more likely that he’d get support from the 93.4% of registered Republicans who skipped the primary.
    The bottom line is that we, as individuals, need to stop relying on the mainstream media to tell us who has a chance and who doesn’t. Make up your own mind. -Every- candidate has an equal chance at winning until votes are cast. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and John Kerry are all examples of candidates who were polling in the low single digits before winning their party’s nominations. How many times does this have to happen before we learn something from it?

  4. Craig

    Here’s an ethical question for you:
    Is saying that a candidate “has no chance to win this primary” responsible journalism? When the candidate has more actual, active supporters than all of the other candidates combined?
    John McCain, Bill Richardson, and Ron Paul each raised about $5 million in the third quarter, yet reporters only seem compelled to call one of them a fringe candidate with no chance to win.
    Ron Paul has over 60,000 volunteers nationwide, in over 1,000 Meetup groups — more than all of the other candidates put together. These people meet in real life, put up signs, and hand out literature — they are not just the Internet.
    Will Ron Paul’s support translate into votes? If his record in real-world Republican straw polls is any indication, Ron Paul’s turnout is going to be several times better than that of the other candidates.

  5. Gordon Hirsch

    Darn it, Brad, I thought we covered this already. News is what you say it is — uuuhh, opinion too. You’re either part of the conspiracy, or you’re not. Don’t go all touchy-feely on us and start asking for directions now.

  6. J.P.

    Well, I would definitely like to hear what you have to say about Dr. Paul–my son has become extremely passionate about his campaign but I know little myself. Looking for enlightenment.

  7. koby

    What would we expect from someone that writes a blog for a website entitled “THE STATE” to say other than “he cant win.”
    I’m from D-Town, i was at Dr. Pauls post-debate speech at the University of Michigan….2000 plus showed up.
    Brad…forget about “work” and go to the speech and hear the truth, see the seriousness of his support…and write something nice about him.
    Dr. Paul is THE LAST CHANCE.

  8. Brad Warthen

    Yeah, OK. Whatever. See you the day after the primary, and we’ll see who was right about this.
    But Gordon’s making me feel like I’m not one of the guys, so let me put it another way: Back off, Jack! Can’t you see you’re dealing with a PROFESSIONAL here?
    And J.P. — God bless you, but the vicinity of Ron Paul is not the place to seek enlightenment.

  9. peter

    Dear J.P.
    IF you want to learn about Dr. Ron Paul the best place to start is his wiki page. It is totally unbiased:
    If you are still intrigued some of his supporters have put together an intro webpage:
    When people start to learn about this man they get hooked: So now that you are hooked 🙂 check out this amazing video a supporter produced:
    There is a revolution on right now and you can contribute too:
    I hope this helps.

  10. Doug Ross

    Hey, maybe Brad’s reverse-kiss-of-death will work for Ron Paul like it didn’t for Joe Lieberman. The State endorsed a guy who got about as many votes for President across the entire state as I got in one school district when I ran for school board and finished second to last… same will happen when The State endorses Biden and McCain shortly.
    Anyway, another website to look at is:
    They’re trying to get 100,000 people to sign up to donate $100 (10 million total) on November 5. The total number of people pledging so far is 15,000 — so worst case is another $1.5M going to the cause.

  11. Anonymous

    Ron Paul was on Jay Leno, in Time Magazine, and mentioned on Rush Limbaugh all in the same week. This occurred because a large group of people whose names you’ll never know worked tirelessly to make that happen. Opinions were voiced at every opportunity. This will not stop and we have a full year before the election. We will win the 3 way race of Clinton, Guiliani, and Paul. The Revolution will be televised.

  12. barry broome

    i support Paul and some of those vids of Ron Paul’s crowds make my hair stand up. Would be interesting to be there i think. I’m curious as to the life of this movement. So many youth plugged in. What will be the result?

  13. Brad Warthen

    And Doug, if you support Ron Paul, and believe he’s the right man for the job, then you understand perfectly why I insisted that we endorse Joe.
    Some of my colleagues believed we should endorse one of the candidates who had a chance, which at that point in South Carolina meant Edwards or Kerry. I said no way, because as I’ve written at least 100 times, endorsements are about who SHOULD win, not who will win.
    Joe Lieberman was the right man, and the fact that Democrats were rushing like lemmings to support Edwards here, and Kerry nationally, did not change that fact.
    Now, those of you who like Mr. Paul feel the same way: The fact that he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance doesn’t change the fact that you think he’s the right man. You scoff at those who insist you shouldn’t “waste” your vote, just as I brushed aside objections that we shouldn’t “waste” our endorsement. Doing the right thing is never a waste.
    So now you understand the Lieberman endorsement. I’m glad we had this little chat.

  14. BZ in NH

    TO: Gordon Hirsch
    Hi. I live in NH. I voted twice for Pres. Bush – I couldn’t pull the trigger for an out and out Socialist. I’m not a “Bush-Hater” neither am I that young (37 in Feb.) I’m Female and I am voting for Ron Paul. I come from a Catholic Background and I’m one of 13 kids. I don’t agree with everything that Dr. Paul says but I know that he will veto spending bills and he will protect the borders by putting US troops on our border. He will (IMHO) reduce Taxes a LOT and he will limit the Federal Government. I want the Feds out of my Children’s Education, I want them to stop telling my state what it has to do, I want the Feds. to stop send other people’s money that they stole from them and their business’ and giving it to others. Socialism needs to stop and I’m taking a Stand. Will you? Will all of you? Will you ALL vote for Ron Paul?

  15. weldon VII

    You wrote: “There’s an ethical question for you: By thus giving publicity to someone I consider to be a fringe candidate, am I distorting the event?”
    I ask: When you publicize a fringe idea (a $1 to $2 tax per gallon of gasoline), are you distorting the shape of elbow macaroni?
    No, and no, and equally so. You might have cost Edwards a few votes when you labeled him a phony, but the price of Oolong tea doesn’t trickle down from your blog or from The State’s editorial page.
    You’re a member of a newspaper’s editorial board, not Congress or a county council. You don’t hold Ron Paul’s fate, or even the fate of his tempest in a Columbia teapot, in your hands.
    The sun does not rise and set with you, sir. But when you act like it does, as you can probably tell, you really irritate me.
    And, Brad, trust me: Endorsing a candidate who has no chance to win isn’t the right thing, it’s a fool’s errand.
    Especially when no one had time to read your editorial before Lieberman had withdrawn from the race.
    Riding a dead horse and beating a dead horse get the same result.
    Nada, squat, zilch, zero, zed, nothing.

  16. Doug Ross

    Willing to bet Paul will get more votes in SC than Lieberman did even without The State’s endorsement?
    How about if he beats McCain in Iowa? Will that mean something or won’t it?
    There’s a big difference between a wasted vote and a wasted endorsement. The State should be endorsing a candidate for the people of SC, not the personal favorite also-ran of the editor. Brad Warthen, citizen, can vote for whomever he likes. Brad Warthen, editor, should look at the endorsement from the perspective of all voters.
    Endorsing Biden and/or McCain this year is a vanity effort, not a public service.

  17. JoJo

    It’s all about the message. That he probably won’t be elected is not so important. He has a message of individual liberty to bring to Americans, that most Americans have forgotten about. That’s what’s inspiring people. His influence remains to be seen in years to come, as he births a whole new generation of libertarians.

  18. Seth M

    You should go. I’m positive you’ll learn something beyond crowd measurements. Dr. Paul is a very intelligent man with keen insight.
    As far as “distorting the event”, I think it’s always good to have skeptics in the crowd. They make the best converts.

  19. JJ

    Brad, you were simply wrong and that’s it. The country is moving in a new direction. We win this primary, Paul is our next President. Let the cynics support Guiliani. They are usually right, I’m usually one of them. Not this time though. I have Hope for America. His name is Ron Paul.

  20. Brad Warthen

    Actually, I thought the libertarian candidate WAS the candidate of the cynics — right, Doug? Although some of his supporters, such as the nice person who sent me the invite, sound a bit starry-eyed.

    Weldon, I’m sorry if you’re offended, but I do this for a living, and I’m perfectly aware that I do affect things by paying attention to them. In physics, it’s called the Observer Effect, sometimes confused with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle — the observer and the observed interact through the process of observation.

    It’s actually more noticeable in our face-to-face interactions with sources than it is in what we write. The newsmaker acts differently when he knows his actions are being recorded. When you think about it, that’s a bigger effect than affecting how many people turn out for a campaign event. Interviewing a candidate makes the candidate himself different.

    Sometimes, what we’ve written in the past affects the interview. I’ve had the experience a number of times of interviewing a candidate for office for the first time, and it’s obvious the person is trying to tell us what we want to hear, based on what we’ve written.

    I picked up on the problem with the Observer Effect early in my career, which is why I started trying, whenever possible, to blend into the crowd when covering an event. I used to wear an old Navy flight jacket as a reporter, unless I was going somewhere where I had to wear a suit. The jacket was volumninous, and I could sling a 35mm SLR over my shoulder UNDER the jacket, so that it was ready to use, but hidden. I would jam my notebook into the waistband of my pants in the small of back, also under the jacket, and not take it out until there was something I absolutely had to write down to remember.

    I absolutely detested being “credentialed” and herded into the “media” section, because that seems less than useless. I’d just as soon not be there as have that perspective. I was being a little bit facetious when I wrote this post about my discomfort interviewing McCain when I thought I was going to do my fly-on-the-wall thing. I suppose my undercover days are over with politicians, because there’s always someone there who will make me. But I can get away with it in other contexts, sometimes. And it’s always best when I can.

  21. Brad Warthen

    And Seth, I’ll be there if it’s possible. Right now, I’m running behind for a Friday, and I usually can’t get out of here by 7 on a GOOD Friday. Besides, I’m afraid that if you’re looking for ME to be a convert, you’ll be disappointed. Ron Paul is a libertarian, and therefore the least likely candidate for me. I just can’t buy into all the delusional fantasies about an overpowerful government that are essential to that world view. No offense, but that’s how I see it.
    And Doug, you’ve stimulated a new thought here, so congratulations. You’re right that a vote and an endorsement are two different things. I don’t always vote in accordance with our endorsements, although I do so more than 90 percent of the time.
    Anyway, the new thought is this: Your suggesting that an endorsement needs to be more pragmatic and winner-oriented than a personal vote is sort of backwards. I haven’t thought of it this way, but my personal vote is a real, tangible act out in the world that has a real-world effect — one more vote for a candidate.
    But an endorsement is about the IDEAS. Therefore, it’s much more important to be true and consistent to the board’s positions, without regard to who will win or anything so base as that.
    Is this theorem perfect? No. We do not endorse candidates who are completely outside the realm of possibility (especially not here in SC). But then, we aren’t likely to LIKE a candidate who is totally beyond the pale, either, so it’s kind of moot.
    But when you say, “Brad Warthen, editor, should look at the endorsement from the perspective of all voters,” you are right. That’s what I was doing with the Lieberman endorsement. Within the context of a Democratic primary held at a moment when the Kerry bandwagon is distorting everyone’s perception, and John Edwards has actually conned a lot of people into thinking he’s our favorite son, Lieberman had no chance.
    But if you look at all South Carolinians — Republicans and independents as well as win-hungry Dems — I believed then, and believe now, that Joe Lieberman came a lot closer to the values of the people of this state overall than either of the front-runners.
    I can’t demonstrate that I’m right about that, but I CAN point to the voting in Connecticut last year, in which he lost the primary but won the general.
    Joe Lieberman was a guy we could have endorsed in the general election — and while I realize this is a huge IF under the circumstances, if he had been the nominee, I’m confident that that’s who we would have endorsed. After all, the only reason we went with Bush was because we didn’t trust Kerry not to cave on the war. With Joe, we would have had a candidate who not only wouldn’t cave, but would prosecute the war wisely and successfully, unlike the way Bush ended up doing.

  22. Klutometis

    “Ron Paul has no chance to win this primary, but the support he does have is obviously passionate. . . .”
    Where did you dig up this thoughtless axiom? Ron Paul is more successful than his Neorepublican counterparts digging up crowds and cash.
    And last I heard, primaries can be won by crowds and cash.

  23. Brad Warthen

    Once again, I’m not going to argue with you. Check back with me on the morning after the primary. You want proof of what I’m saying? At that time, the proof will be available.

    Of course, in the wildly improbable event that a guy who should be running for the Libertarian nomination (again) won the Republican nod, Democrats’ fondest dreams would be fully realized. The hated GOP would lie in shambles at their feet, no longer a viable electoral entity.

  24. Ron H

    Thanks for the space, It looks like everyone here loves Ron Paul but you. You can keep insisting your right but we have researched Ron Paul and his Message is inspiring. Paul has cured the apathy of thousands if not millions of voters. Its a whole new ballgame and the Power of the New Voters is possibly stronger than anyone could have imagined. Ron Paul in working hard to protect your rights too! Our Liberties are under attack. check out HR1955 and call or e-mail your congressman/woman. Read the legislation that Ron Paul submitted HR3835 and Vote Ron Paul!

  25. Brad Warthen

    That’s the way it goes, Ron. It’s sort of like saying anything about immigration, for instance — you hear from all the overexcited folk who disagree with you.
    One problem I have with some of these candidates who come along and get “apathetic” people all interested and involved is this: Why were these people so uncaring to begin with? I’ve been involved and interested and paying attention right along, as a citizen should. This can make some of the observations by those those who’ve just gotten engaged with the process sound more than a little naive and simplistic.
    And please don’t go doing anything drastic to “protect” MY rights. My rights are just fine, in no danger at all. And of course, that’s one of the reasons I’m in such disagreement with Mr. Paul. The state of my rights is very, very far from being the most urgent issue that a president of the United States would need to address…

  26. Darren D.

    Hi Brad,
    Wow, this is the first time a journalist has made the statement,
    “Ron Paul has no chance to win this primary”.
    It was somewhat original when George Steph said it to Dr. Paul’s face a couple of months ago. At this point it is somewhat rediculous how often it is said.
    But, honestly, you know you don’t believe it. I’ll prove it to you.
    I will bet you $500.00 US with you giving me 100 to 1 odds that Dr. Paul will win the Republican nomination in 2008.
    Since Dr. Paul has no chance of winning this should be the easiest $500.00 you ever made. I am completely sincere.
    Let me know how you want to work out the details. I’m sure I’ll here from you soon.
    Darren Donahue
    Maple Valley, WA

  27. Brad Warthen

    My address is easily available; you won’t have trouble sending the check.
    But when you do, I’ll send it right back to you. I’m not going to take advantage of you. End of discussion.

  28. Brad Warthen

    I was unable to get away from work in time to make it. I drove past at about 9 and the crowd was gone; some folks were just packing up their Ron Paul posters and such.
    Maybe next time. Good night, all.

  29. weldon VII

    About the observer effect, Brad:
    Been there, done that, dream on. Such a tide might hold some sway in a small fish tank, but a presidential campaign event swims in an ocean.
    Still, if it makes you feel good about yourself, just go on thinking your presence might have an affect on anything a presidential candidate says or does upon making a stop in Columbia.
    Methinks they expect the press to be hanging on every word and deed at every meeting where they speak or just shake hands.
    Methinks, too, that they make an effort to be on guard during every public minute of every day, even if you did catch Edwards acting less than presidential off camera once.
    They’re playing a game involving millions of dollars and power such as few could imagine.
    Your game involves advertising dollars and a few words anyone could disregard with a shrug.
    Besides, Ron Paul is working the presidential race at its edge. You can only help him.
    The more times you say he has no chance to win, the more chance he does.
    But no matter what you do, unless you can convince your editorial board to endorse his candidacy in a timely fashion, you can’t better his chances by more than one in 1,000.

  30. Brad Warthen

    Weldon, perhaps I was unclear. I think I sort of switched subjects awhile back, so my bad. I just looked back, and my transition was awkward and unclear.
    My original point — before all the Observer Effect stuff — was about whether I should POST anything about the event, thereby possibly causing a few more people to show up. I was conscious of it because I seldom mention a candidate’s event on this blog in advance, and I was wondering whether I should do so with someone who doesn’t stand a chance.
    I was talking about something different with the observer effect. And I certainly wasn’t referring to affecting the outcome of an election. I was simply saying that if a subject is not consciously aware that I’m there, I get something much more real than if I’m standing in front of him with a notebook. And in a crowd, I get a lot more than the main subject — I get what others are saying to each other, which is very different from what you get if you INTERVIEW a bystander.
    You’re talking about winning and losing elections; I’m talking about the quality of material I have to write about. Big difference.

  31. Doug Ross

    Brad likes non-partisan politicians… but only when it’s a Democrat or Republican.
    The derision and condescension toward the non-mainstream candidates and their supporters is palpable. Regardless of the fact that any problems we have in America right now are a direct result of Democrats and Republicans.
    More of the same!!!! That’s the rallying cry for the Unparty! Ironic, isn’t it?

  32. Brad Warthen

    I strive to be deeply complex and conflicted. Chicks dig that, right? Although it seems my wife always sees through it…
    Speaking of my wife, be sure to tune in for my column tomorrow, in which she plays a starring role…

  33. Bill Suber

    The young professionals entering the work force now understand what their parents mean by too much government. They are “the children” the govt. has used to rob us so it can provide a “better” life for them. Now they realize the burden is being transferred to them and they don’t want the govt. taking care of “their children”. Ron Paul is the less govt. candidate. Less money being taken from the paychecks of the new young professionals is what they want. We all know money talks! And it might speak loudly through their votes.

  34. Mick Russom

    Ron Paul 2008. He is the last chance to make the US worth living in at all. We pay socialist level taxes but instead of socialism, we get war in perpetuity. Ron Paul will change that for America.


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