Ron Paul fans making CPAC their own

Paulites spread the libertarian gospel and organize for CPAC's presidential straw poll

Published February 11, 2011 5:45PM (EST)

Rand and Ron Paul
Rand and Ron Paul

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the libertarian-leaning 2008 presidential candidate and father of freshman senator Rand Paul, is expected to make a strong showing in the annual CPAC straw poll Saturday. Paul, in fact, won the straw poll last year with a decisive 31 percent; establishment man Mitt Romney was second with 22 percent.

The Paul supporters are out in force again this year; they're a very visible presence at the conference handing out literature about "unmasking the Federal Reserve," repealing the Patriot Act, and so on. They already made headlines Thursday when they heckled Dick Cheney. And a group associated with Paul reportedly bought 1,000 tickets for supporters, ensuring a strong performance in the straw poll.

I spoke with one young Paul supporter, Sean Ryan, who came down to CPAC from Boston. He discovered Paul while watching the the 2007 Republican primary debate, when Paul went head to head with Rudy Giuliani about the causes of September 11. Like many Paul supporters, Ryan has a well-articulated worldview, emphasizing foreign policy and fiscal issues, and he admires Paul's consistency. I asked Ryan about the Cheney heckling, the straw poll, and how this year feels different than 2007.

Watch the interview:

By Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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