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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Paul’s Isolationism Wins Supporters, Despite Crazy Policies

For your daily dose of political irony, read “Ron Paul backed by workers he’s aiming to show door, The GOP’s most ardent budget hawk is drawing the most money from federal workers and contractors” by Bloomberg’s Nick Taborek in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. As Taborek reports:

Ron Paul, the presidential candidate who says he’ll shrink government the most, is attracting more campaign cash than any of his Republican rivals from two unlikely sources: U.S. government workers and employees of the biggest federal contractors.
…”There is at the bottom of this a truly bizarre set of paradoxes, where many of the people who are attacking government the most are ultimately heavily dependent on it,” said Don Kettl, dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.

According to FEC data,

Paul…has said he’ll cut $1 trillion in his first year in office, leads in donations from federal employees, with $95,085 through Sept. 30. That is more than four times the $23,000 federal employees gave to Mitt Romney, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by Bloomberg…Paul has said he would eliminate the departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Interior and Housing and Urban Development.

It’s not just government employees who support the candidate most likely to gut their jobs, reports Taborek:

Paul, who opposed the Iraq war, has raised $76,789 from employees of the top 50 government contractors, a group led by weapons makers such as Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co. Romney has raised $65,800 and Rick Perry $16,250.

Taborek notes that President Obama has raised more money from federal employees than any Republican. That makes sense. Paul’s fund-raising success with federal employees, contractors and military personnel, however, is more of a head-scratcher, especially at a time when government workers are under relentless assault from Paul’s party. According to a recent Paul campaign email, he is “the only candidate who plans to cut about $1 trillion of the $3.5 trillion federal budget in the first year of his term.”
As Taborek explains: “Paul said in an Oct. 5 speech at the National Press Club in Washington that he leads in fundraising from the military because troops support his opposition to foreign conflicts.”
Paul has done well in fund-raising and GOP polls, despite his embrace of a range of quackish economic policies. If it’s because of his isolationist clarity, that’s significant.
Paul is no threat to President Obama. But If his gains are built on tapping a large well of dovish isolationism, then perhaps President Obama should take note and speed up our disengagement from Afghanistan. In so doing, the President just might get a bigger bite of the large number of voters who are tired of funding nation-building abroad.

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