One of the big unsolved mysteries of the 2012 presidential election has been whether or not Ron Paul will run. Here's an indication that he's at least seriously considering it: Paul's political organization, the Liberty PAC, has raised $1.1 million over the last month.
Paul will use the money to travel to Iowa and New Hampshire next week.
$1.1 million isn't a lot in the long term, but as a one-day haul it's big. And it's further proof that Paul is competitive with top-tier GOP candidates.
Liberty PAC raised just $171,000 last year, but another organization affiliated with Paul--the 501(c)4 group Campaign for Liberty, of which Paul is the honorary chair--raised $6.5 million last year, according to a spokesman.
By comparison, Sarah Palin's Sarah PAC raised $3.52 million in all of 2010. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC raised just over $2 million.
As a 501(c)4 group, the Campaign for Liberty isn't bound by the same fundraising restrictions as the PACs associated with Palin and Pawlenty. Newt Gingrich, whose 527 group American Solutions is similarly unfettered, was able to raise over $13 million last year for his group.
Much of Paul's recent $1.1 million was raised on Presidents' Day through a "moneybomb," according to Rep. Paul's (R-Texas) political director, Jesse Benton. Supporters were asked to give money on the same day in hopes of recording an impressive one-day haul.
Paul's team popularized the "moneybomb" fundraising technique during the 2008 presidential race, using it to set a one-day online fundraising record for presidential candidates. It's since become a popular method among conservatives, as tea partiers and conservative Senate campaigns have used it since 2008.
Thanks to his moneybombs, Paul raised $4.7 million on Nov. 5, 2007 (Guy Fawkes Day). A little more than a month later, he raised $6 million, breaking John Kerry's single-day online presidential fundraising record of $5.7 million in 2004.
These days, Paul can conduct political business through his PAC and 501(c)4. Campaign for Liberty uses his 2008 campaign e-mail list to stay in touch with supporters, conduct issue advocacy, and generally keep the Ron Paul movement alive.
While Paul would certainly enter the 2012 race as an underdog, his followers are loyal. He surprised many in 2008 with his base of support and could have potential impact on the 2012 contest as well, as top-tier GOP candidates try to appeal to the small-government, libertarian side of the GOP base. Paul already speaks quite clearly to that group.