Asked if his support base had helped him keep his position, Paul smiled and said he didn’t know, but he was sure his fans would have been unhappy if he was slighted.
“Yeah, they would be upset,” he said, adding that the anti-federal government sentiment also played a role in his prominence in the Conference. “Momentum has a lot to do with it.”
Paul supporters are as numerous as they are vocal.
At the February 2010 meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, supporters crowded into the ballroom of the Marriott Wardman Park, making Paul’s speech one of the most well-attended. He went on to win CPAC’s annual presidential straw poll with 31 percent of the vote, beating out party heavyweights such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. And more than 90,000 people have “liked” the Facebook site “Ron Paul 2012.”
Paul supporters have also spoken enthusiastically with their wallets.
After raising tens of millions of dollars for his presidential run, Paul still has a campaign war chest of nearly $2 million — quite a cushion for a lawmaker who was re-elected with 76 percent.
While Paul may not vote with Republicans — he has been, on more than one occasion, one of the few Republicans to vote with Democrats on issues such as the war or some social issues — political operatives at the National Republican Congressional Committee said he has been the consummate team player financially.
In the 2008 cycle, Paul transferred $54,000 to the NRCC. He more than doubled that amount in the 2010 cycle, transferring $135,000 from his campaign account. That does not include Paul’s direct donation to other candidates.
Paul has taken his unique power and the attention he has received in stride, saying the message he has touted for decades is finally catching on in Washington.
“Although [other lawmakers] denied it for years, the movement has been there,” he said.
“After however many years, the sentiment is anti-federalism.” He added, “My ideas suddenly aren’t so out there.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.