With Newt Gingrich expected to announce on Wednesday that he is folding up his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Ron Paul stands as the final obstacle in the way of Mitt Romney, and the maverick Texas congressman is looking to make his stand in the two largest electoral prizes on the map -- his own Lone Star State and California.
While he has been on the political stage for more than 35 years in the Lone Star State, Paul has not fared well there during his two previous presidential bids. He took less than 5 percent in the Texas primary in 2008 when he ran for the Republican presidential nomination, finishing well behind John McCain and Mike Huckabee. During his 1988 bid, when he was the Libertarian Partys presidential nominee, Paul took 0.6 percent of the vote in Texas in the general election -- far behind George H.W. Bush, the Republican presidential candidate who had been based in the Lone Star State for more than two and a half decades.
Recent polls have shown Romney ahead in Texas and Paul upside down in the Lone Star State. A poll released by Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to Democrats, last week found that Paul was in distant third in his home state, far behind Romney and Gingrich.
Still, Paul is focusing on Texas and he drew large crowds when he campaigned in El Paso and Houston last week. The congressman pulled more than 6,000 supporters in Austin when he campaigned at the University of Texas at Austin last week.
With Texas holding its primary on May 29 -- and the Lone Star State bringing 155 delegates to the Republican convention in Tampa -- the Paul team looks to continue to build momentum there. The Paul team announced that they will hold another rally in Austin on Sunday, this one featuring the candidate and his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. The event is being backed by the Tea Party Express.
The nation already witnessed history twice when a sitting U.S. senator Rand Paul campaigned for his father Ron Paul for the presidency, said Jesse Benton, the chairman of the Paul campaign. It occurred ahead of the Ames straw poll where Ron Paul was statistically tied for first place, and again during a daylong whistle-stop tour the Pauls held prior to the Iowa caucus.
One day this rally will occupy a special place in our history books when the Paul family and tea party are credited with restoring American government to its constitutional limits, Benton added. How soon this recognition comes is up to voters.
The Paul team is also California dreaming this week. The Golden State ranks as the largest prize in the Electoral College and will bring 172 delegates to the GOP convention in Tampa. California will hold its primary on June 5 along with four other states -- Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota.
With a month to go until California Republicans have their say, Paul is hitting the Golden State this week with rallies in Davis and San Diego, as well as fundraising events across the state.
The Paul campaign is also picking up delegates from Rick Santorum who ended his bid for the Republican nomination in early April. Over the weekend, the Paul team picked up some momentum in Louisiana, a state Santorum carried in the primary back in March before he exited the race. The Paul team -- which won almost 75 percent of the delegates chosen in caucus over the weekend -- hopes to control the convention in June which will send delegates to the GOP convention in Tampa.
The Paul team is hoping for similar results in other states, hoping to build up their delegate totals in Iowa,Maine and Minnesota.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.