Ron Paul's GOP legacy growing in states like Iowa

By Thomas Beaumont

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

In some states, establishment Republicans connected to the party's donor base have complained that the newcomers are hostile to candidates who didn't fit with Ron Paul's ideology.

These critics have pointed to measurable dips in state party fundraising in Iowa. Likewise in Nevada, where Romney and the RNC set up a shadow campaign last year out of doubts about the state GOP competence.

National party leaders are reaching out to these new leaders.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus, elected in 2011 to resuscitate the RNC's fundraising, has sought out Paul supporters as he seeks re-election.

And the view is emerging within the broader national party that it's better to have them inside the GOP organization, where they will be expected to perform in fundraising and, ultimately, winning elections.

"The bottom line is they want to be part of the process. It's good more of them are in charge," Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Given Paul's appeal to younger voters, the broader Republican Party would be wise to listen, Paul advisers and supporters say.

According to exit polls conducted during the November election, Obama outperformed Romney among younger voters. Fully half of voters who backed the Democratic president were under age 45, compared with 40 percent of Romney's supporters.

Likewise, 49 percent of voters who consider themselves Democrats were age 44 or younger, compared to 42 percent among self-identified Republicans. The gap was even greater in the 10 most closely divided states, according to the exit polls conducted for The Associated Press.

Yet, during the nominating campaign, when Paul drew blockbuster crowds while campaigning on college campuses, he carried a higher percentage of younger voters than Romney.

"Young people are embracing his small government, libertarian principles," said Jesse Benton, Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign manager. "That can make the party much more attractive as segments of the party age."

Paul's network could give son Rand a readymade platform on which to run, although former aides note it's not a guarantee he, or any Ron Paul protege, would automatically inherit his supporters.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also get mentions from Ron Paul supporters as philosophical heirs to the former Texas congressman.

"Whether it's Rand Paul or someone else, I have allegiance not to them, but to their ideals," said Drew Ivers, Ron Paul's 2012 Iowa campaign chairman and now finance chairman for the Iowa GOP. "Whoever steps forward to lead that charge is the kind of leader we should champion."

Associated Press director of polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed from Washington.

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