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The Brief: Feb. 6, 2012

A poor showing in Nevada on Saturday has thrown Ron Paul's campaign strategy into doubt.

Ron Paul in Manchester speaking to supporters after the 2012 New Hampshire primary.

The Big Conversation:

A poor showing in Nevada on Saturday has thrown Ron Paul's campaign strategy into doubt.

Though Paul wasn't expected to win the state's caucuses, campaign officials had said they expected a strong second-place finish. Some even predicted last week that Paul could win if turnout was low.

The campaign, after all, had set up a Nevada office more than six months ago, and had spent almost twice as much money in the state on TV ads as front-runner Mitt Romney, who won the state in 2008. (Paul placed a distant second, ahead of John McCain.)

Instead, Paul finished third on Saturday, with 19 percent of the vote, behind Newt Gingrich, who had spent no money on ads in the state but still collected 21 percent of the vote. Romney again claimed first place, with 50 percent of the vote.

As Politico notes, though the disappointing finish isn't likely to hurt Paul's ultimate goal of amassing delegates in smaller caucus states in an attempt to wield influence at the Republican convention, the results have underscored Paul's inability to significantly expand his voter base, even in libertarian-friendly states like Nevada.

Paul said Sunday on ABC's This Week that organizational glitches had caused "chaos" and "confusion" among caucusgoers. (One dispute, according to The New York Times, centered on a special Saturday night caucus designed to accommodate Orthodox Jews who could not vote before sundown.) But he admitted that he had underperformed.

"If you go from second to third, there would be some disappointment," he said. "But on the positive side, we will get a block of votes, we still will get some delegates, and we still will pursue our plan to go into the caucus states."

The campaign will now turn its focus to Minnesota, which holds its caucuses Tuesday — and which some have called a tossup. Paul attended two events in the state on Saturday and returns today. Caucuses also began Saturday and continue this week in Maine, where Paul has campaigned, though results won't be announced until Feb. 11.

Culled:

  • Rick Perry's presidential campaign may have flopped, but as the Tribune reported Saturday, not everyone involved left empty-handed. The campaign spent $16 million between Aug. 15 and Dec. 31., or $116,000 per day. The largest single chunk of money went to Paint Creek Media, the company that was set up to handle Perry's TV ad buys.
  • The Austin American-Statesman and the Houston Chronicle reported Friday that two Super PACs have sprung up in Texas' U.S. Senate race: the Conservative Renewal PAC, formed by former Harris County GOP chairman Gary Polland and political consultant Bob Wickersone in support of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and Real World Conservatives, which will back Craig James.
  • Texas may have weathered the recession better than most states, but a new study says that nearly 30 percent of households in the state have no financial security in case of an emergency. Excluding cars and homes, that number rises to 50 percent. The state ranks 41st in overall financial security.

"We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not." — Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder and CEO Nancy Brinker in a statement released Friday on the foundation's decision to continue funding breast exams at Planned Parenthood

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