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The Brief: March 19, 2012

His supporters haven't lost their fervor, but Ron Paul may be losing some of his trademark fundraising prowess.

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The Big Conversation:

His supporters haven't lost their fervor, but Ron Paul may be losing some of his trademark fundraising prowess.

The Texas congressman's campaign, once known for its financial hauls, spent more money ($3.55 million) than it raised ($3.27 million) in February, according to new federal campaign finance filings. And Politico reported Friday that Paul — who had counted on amassing delegates in small caucus states but has yet to win a contest — now claims less cash on hand than at any point this election cycle.

Politico also reported earlier this month that the Super PAC backing Paul has begun to reassess its support of the congressman. Team Paul also recently lost the only remaining embedded campaign reporter who'd been assigned to the candidate.

But Paul's woes don't seem to have deterred his most impassioned supporters. News of the possible cash crunch came a day before Paul fandom boiled over in Missouri, where police at one of the state's largest caucus sites were forced to shut down proceedings after supporters of Paul and Mitt Romney accused caucus organizers of breaking procedural rules. The standoff, ABC News reports, eventually led police to call a helicopter to the scene.

“It turned into a little food fight within the caucus, between the caucus chairman trying to control the caucus and certain elements, I guess with Ron Paul, trying to be heard,” Tom Kipers, a former chairman of the local Republican Party, told ABC News.

With Paul struggling to gain any electoral traction, talk has recently turned to the candidate's endgame — and whether he'll wield any substantial influence over delegates at the Republican National Convention, as he'd hoped.

Time reported last week that the Paul campaign has sent "discreet signals" to the Mitt Romney campaign that Paul may decide to help Romney — and possibly throw his delegates to him — if the two can strike a deal.

But such a deal might prove a hard sell for some of Paul's supporters. “Bottom line: I can’t imagine him asking us to do that,” one of Paul's Colorado delegates told the Houston Chronicle. “If you look at his track record, the man hasn’t violated anything he’s said by his actions in 30 years, so it would be a huge thing. That would be the story of the century — and that’s why I find it to be in the realm of fantasy.”

Culled:

  • Attorney General Greg Abbott on Friday filed yet another lawsuit against the federal government — this time over the Women's Health Program, for which the Obama administration has cut off funding over state Republicans' efforts to exclude Planned Parenthood from the program. Abbott in a statement called the federal government's move unconstitutional because it seeks to "commandeer and coerce the states' lawmaking processes into awarding taxpayer subsidies to elective abortion providers."
  • Allison Catalano, a part-time legislative staffer who recently resigned over cuts to the state's Women's Health Program, has drawn attention — and a potential job offer from a Democratic legislator — for the resignation letter she wrote to her boss, state Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton, calling her vote on the matter "shameful," as the San Antonio Express-News reports. "I cannot in good conscience continue to be associated with you or a Legislature that would so unabashedly and unapologetically belittle the hard-fought rights of women," Catalano, 26, wrote in the letter. The former staffer recently spoke at a rally on the issue attended by Rep. Dawnna Dukes, who told Catalano in her speech to send her resume to her office. "It is in the mail," Catalano told the Express-News.
  • Texas received poor marks in a public integrity study released today. The state, which scored a D+, placing 27th in the national study, earned high marks for auditing and for monitoring pension funds but lower scores for accountability of the state's governor and legislators.

"Don't think I let the day go by without another lawsuit against the Federal Gov't. One coming any minute." — Attorney General Greg Abbott on Twitter on Friday, just before announcing that Texas had sued the feds over the Women's Health Program

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