COLUMBIA — Nobody out-passions Ron Paul supporters.
Talk to any journalist, pundit, pollster or operative who is covering or working the Republican Party presidential campaign, and they have vivid stories of the energy, the enthusiasm, the loyalty of Paulians, the term by which they self-identify.
This passion gets channeled in various ways. Paulians are particularly angered at the mainstream press for what they perceive to be negative and unequal treatment of their candidate. I follow a number of leading national presidential reporters and pollsters on my twitter feed, and pretty much every day at least one of them shares some experience with disgruntled Paul supporters.
Such zeal has produced unnerving moments for some members of the press, who are sometimes targeted for what is perceived to be biased coverage of Paul. Dana Bash of CNN got this treatment 10 days ago.
To be fair to the Paul camp, their perceptions of uneven media treatment were borne out in at least one measure of Thursday night’s presidential debate: Paul received roughly half as many unfettered speaking opportunities as Rick Santorum, and a third less than Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich apiece.
It became so noticeable that at one point Paul supporters in the audience yelled at the debate moderator, CNN’s John King, to give Paul a chance to answer a question. Don’t mess with Texas’s Apostle Paul.
The Paulian zeal also provides a foundation for campaign events that have the feel of those during the 2008 Obama campaign: passionate love affairs of supporters and their political savior.
We hit one of them here tonight.
The location was Jillian’s Billiards Club, which is a sibling of the same establishment in Seattle. It is located four blocks from the University of South Carolina campus, it was Friday night, voting in the Republican presidential primary was to begin in 10 hours.
To capture the feel, we produced an on-the-fly video. It was shot and edited by UWElectionEye colleague Alex Stonehill, with me asking questions.