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Blimp promotes unconventional candidate

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SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Friday was not the first time the Ron Paul blimp has been spotted over South Carolina, but it is the first time we've gotten a close-up look at the air ship.

A big question is hanging over the heads of South Carolina primary voters. Who is Ron Paul?

The answer is that he's the Texas congressman and obstetrician with supporters so convinced he should run the country they've forked over $400,000 to put his name on a blimp.

In many ways a blimp is perfect for Ron Paul, an unconventional mode of travel for an unconventional Republican candidate. Cruising through the fog over Sumter, pilot Dick Schwenker says the blimp definitely draws attention. "People are always excited to see a blimp. It's kind of like balloons and blimps make people happy. So it's a spectacular thing to see. And of course the message gets across because the billboards are very large."

Supporter Trevor Lyman says, "This is done entirely by the grass roots. They didn't organize the blimp. They didn't have any say in whether we did it or not. We basically just came up with the concept, put together the details, put it out there to Ron Paul supporters on the internet and they decided to fund it."

Paul's political outlook also veers away from the mainstream - limited government, strict adherence to constitutional principles, steady opposition to the war.

He voted against the Patriot Act, Congressional pay raises, and won't take a pension. Dr. Laura Wolliver of USC says, "A lot of people don't know that Ron Paul, for instance, wants to go back to the gold standard. And this is something that many of us haven't even thought about for 100 years, you know, not since William Jennings Bryan."

The philosophy resonates with John Perna of Columbia. "What do the American people want? They want lower taxes. They want less government. Seventy percent of the American people want to be out of the war in Iraq."

Paul's supporters have helped him raise millions, enough to pay for professionally produced billboards and TV spots. But polls show the ads, and even the blimp, haven't been enough to lift Ron Paul above most of the GOP contenders.

Reported by Jack Kuenzie

Posted by Chantelle Janelle

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