By ELISE HU
Texas Republican Ron Paul is considered a long shot in the race for president, but he’s a big hit on the Internet — drawing more Google searches than Paris Hilton.
Click here for larger video And a growing hub for the Ron Paul Internet buzz is in Austin.
“We have the largest meet-up group in the nation,” said Paul Davis, who started the Austin online community.
The congressman from Lake Jackson is still considered a bottom-tier candidate, but his online supporters have helped him quickly spread his simple message.
“No government monitoring, no government regulation, no government taxation,” said Paul. And no more involvement in Iraq.
The anti-war, pro-free-market message led Davis to start a group that now has nearly 500 members.
“This is really growing like crazy,” said Davis.
Even Paul says he’s surprised by the response.
“The reception has been many, many fold greater than I have ever dreamed,” Paul said. “It just seems to spread through the Internet.”
On the Internet, Paul has been something of a net-roots phenomenon, topping Paris Hilton and iPhone in Google searches.
The cyber-popularity has helped draw fundraising dollars, without Paul having to appear at fundraisers to ask for it.
His second quarter cash-on-hand exceeds that of Republican John McCain, who’s long been considered a top tier candidate.
“That’s important, you know. The campaign’s growing but we’re not spending our money to do this. That’s what’s amazing,” Paul said.
But his support is still dismal in most national polls, where he registers at only one or two percent, if he registers at all.
People like Davis press on anyway.
“The more people find out who he is, and hear his message, it’ll take care of itself,” Davis said.
Hoping a message spread in a virtual world helps translate to real votes.”