If you put Ron Paul and Rick Perry side by side in this presidential race, most people would probably say Paul is the underdog. Will Lutz, managing editor of the Lone Star Report, a conservative political newsletter, says that what Paul supporters lack in numbers they make up for in passion.
"He has a group of supporters that might be 10 percent of the Republican primary voters. But they are very, very enthusiastic," Lutz said.
Audio: Ben Philpott's story for KUT News
That’s why Paul almost won the Iowa Straw Poll. Don Zimmerman, a Texas Republican Party Executive Committee member, says Perry supporters worried about what would happen if Texas held its own straw poll.
"Some of them stood up and objected to the Texas GOP sponsoring a straw poll out of fear that Ron Paul would win and that that might diminish the governor's stature or embarrass the governor somehow," Zimmerman said. "You know I strongly objected to that. I think people should have a right to choose."
Zimmerman is a long time Paul supporter — and worked locally on his 2008 presidential campaign. He doesn’t have a problem with Perry — but he’s says there have been too many times when the promises of Candidate Perry haven’t matched the actions of Governor Perry.
"So there are a number of issues of real things that the governor has done that doesn't seem to line up with his rhetoric," he said. "And when you're talking about Congressman Ron Paul's voting record — it's very much in line with the rhetoric."
Lutz says the divisions existed long before Perry entered the presidential campaign. The battle lines were drawn based on the political style of each candidate.
"Rick Perry is about winning. And he is about accomplishing certain objectives," Lutz said. "Ron Paul is about standing for principles. In a nutshell that's the difference between the two."
And there are examples. From the Perry-initiated Trans-Texas Corridor, which Paul had problems with on many levels, to how the country should use its military.
"Most of Paul's supporters are not fond of these foreign military engagements. Whereas a lot of Perry's supporters are enthusiastically behind them," Lutz said, adding that that no matter what you think of the Perry-led budget cuts this year, Paul would have cut even more.
And if recent interviews on some of the 24-hour news networks are any indication, Paul and Perry will be pitted against each other — whether they intend start a fight or not. But there have been similar schisms, like in the 2008 Texas primary between establishment candidate John McCain and evangelical Mike Huckabee. Zimmerman says the party came together then.
"And at the end of the day I think the party regulars, no matter where they're from, they're gonna get behind their nominee," Zimmerman said.
Their common ground, cliched but true, is a common enemy in the White House.
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