In Nevada and other upcoming caucus states, Paul hopes his tireless minority can stage an upset. If they can't, he's probably finished.
PAHRUMP, Nev. -- In a Polynesian-themed former roller rink with bright-yellow walls and fuchsia patterned carpet, Ron Paul was making his last stand.
"It's always nice to come to Nevada," the slightly built congressman said from a podium, to wild cheering. "There are a lot of people here who believe in liberty."
Paul's right about that -- the rugged Western individualists that inhabit these desolate, brush-dotted lands make a receptive audience for his suspicious-of-government, leave-me-alone pitch.
But how big an audience? Paul has staked his campaign on staging upsets in Nevada on Saturday and the caucus states that follow in the next week -- Maine, Colorado and Minnesota. It is there, he hopes, that what he calls his "irate, tireless minority" can mobilize strongly enough to defy expectations, making up in fervor what it lacks in mass and swamping the straw-poll-style precinct meetings.
If he fails, it could be the end of the road.
Already, Paul's message-based candidacy has begun to recede from the foreground of the Republican race. Never mind becoming president. If his much-vaunted organization fails to live up to the hype again -- as in Iowa, the only caucus state to date, where Paul finished a disappointing third -- Paul could find himself failing in what often seems like a more prized goal, that of getting out his message of libertarian conservatism.