Texas Congressman Ron Paul finished in fourth place tonight in the South Carolina Republican primary, but he showed no sign of quitting soon. Despite coming in last among the remaining lead contenders, Paul vowed to continue promoting his messages about reforming monetary policy and ending military engagement overseas.
“You know what’s different today? We are the next generation and we’re suffering the consequences,” said Paul, who at 76 is the oldest candidate in the contest, during his concession speech before a boisterous crowd in Columbia, S.C. “We will win the battle for peace and prosperity.”
Political pundits on cable television said Paul’s latest showing made it clear his campaign doesn’t stand a chance of winning the nomination. It appears, they said, that he is trying to influence the Republican Party platform by gathering as many delegates as he can ahead of this summer’s convention.
“We must restore the constitution. We must restore liberty,” Paul said, referring to his views that spending on overseas bases should be rolled back in order to serve “people who are suffering here at home.”
Paul was cheered as he railed against entitlement programs and the national debt. He argued the more government spends on education and health care, the more those costs rise.
“We’re lackadaisical about our understanding of freedom. If we want a free or prosperous society, we have to assume responsibility for ourselves,” Paul said.
In a post-speech interview with CNN, Paul said he is looking beyond Florida, which is a winner-take-all state that would take millions of campaign dollars. He said he will participate in two planned debates there next week.
Meanwhile, his campaign has bought airtime in Nevada and Minnesota, states that offer a proportional allocation of delegates.
“We have organizations in these states and we’ll do well,” Paul said. “The money is better spent going to the caucus states, the smaller states."
The 12-term Texas congressman said he hasn’t “thought much about” how many delegates he needs to change the nomination game. When pressed about his prospects of being the overall nominee, Paul said, “Of course I can win, but I won’t make bold predictions. Things change and so many of the others have risen sharply and then they decline sharply.”
Paul said he is counting on a grassroots network of supporters to continue to build on his message.
“They’re calm. They’re steady. We have steady growth,” he said.
Gov. Rick Perry dropped out of the primary on Thursday. With about 75 percent of precincts reporting tonight, it appeared Perry, whose name remained on the ballot, was in sixth place behind Herman Cain, the candidate who left the race weeks ago.
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