COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Brushing off his poor last place finish in the South Carolina primary Saturday, Republican Ron Paul promised supporters the momentum around his libertarian-leaning campaign would continue.

“This is the beginning of a long, hard job,” the Texas congressman told fans gathered at a sports bar in Columbia, the state capital.

Paul vowed to battle on in states holding caucuses over the next several weeks, saying the fight now is to amass delegates rather than to notch splashy wins.

“We will be promoting the whole idea of getting more delegates, because that’s the name of the game,” Paul said.

But the weak fourth-place finish was still a blow to Paul, who came in a respectable second to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in New Hampshire last week and placed third in Iowa behind Romney and Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania. And it raised anew the question of whether he was in the race to win or simply wanted his views to gain maximum influence within the party.

Paul’s advisers had long since written off the contest in South Carolina, a socially conservative state with a large military population advisers knew would be skeptical of Paul’s views. Paul opposes abortion rights but has not made it a centerpiece of his message. He’s also called for deep cuts to military spending as a way to reduce the debt and balance the federal budget.

Nonetheless, Paul’s team had hoped he would edge Santorum in the state. He did not.

Paul’s performance in South Carolina underscored the limitations of his message with Republican voters, who share many of Paul’s views on cutting taxes and spending but have yet to embrace his largely isolationist foreign policy positions. He came under fire in a debate this week from GOP rivals when he questioned the U.S. mission that killed Osama bin Laden.

Paul tried to cast his showing in positive terms Saturday, saying he was a constant in a race that had seen several sharp fluctuations among the other contenders.

“Ever notice how the other candidates go up and then down? I am proud of our efforts at steady growth,” Paul told supporters. The group cheered, yelling “President Paul! President Paul!”

Paul was heading home to Texas from South Carolina for a day off before flying to Tampa, Fla., Monday for a nationally televised debate on NBC. Paul was also scheduled to appear in a CNN debate Thursday but was otherwise bypassing Florida, which holds its primary Jan. 31.

Advisers said Paul would probably head to Maine, whose caucuses begin Feb. 7, and then onto caucus states like Minnesota, Nevada and Colorado. His advisers have long promised to follow the model used by President Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008, believing Paul’s young, Internet-savvy army would turn out to caucus for him in large numbers.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (11)
  1. Chris says:

    RP or Obama for me

    1. yeehaw says:

      Worked for the Nader fans, they got Bush and never regretted it for a second.

  2. Jerry Frey says:

    The way it is:

    Obama re-elected.

    The way it was.

    Perry – Dubya redux, thinks entitlement programs are unconstitutional; Paul – an Austrian oddity; Santorum – nothing better to do; Bachmann – get a clue, no accomplishments in Congress; Cain – flavor of the month – happy hands; Huntsman – no traction; Gingrich – consummate DC insider; liar and hypocrite; Romney – plastic fantastic, spineless – Kerry do-over. Sarah Palin still lurks about marketing her brand.

    1. yearofthedragon says:

      Austrian oddity? You will soon find out what an odd economy is,the one that’s on the verge of plummeting into the abyss with Europe

      1. Ron Paul 2012 says:

        At least we get it. Not everyone is capable nor equiped.

    2. 15trillion + says:

      15 trillion and counting spend spend spend get a clue we cant afford Obama

  3. gimmeabreak says:

    lies…Paul does NOT have isolationalist policies…it’s called “respecting the soveignty of other nations”…’cco finnaly puts an article out there about him and they still gotta (c)B.S.

  4. Face It says:

    The more we see of this race the more ill we become at seeing how dumbed down,corrupted,litterally poisoned peoples minds have become from the junk in their water ,food,meds,vaccines,ect…God help us

  5. Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot says:

    I love the way all the idiot Republican leaders keep saying “the government needs to get out of the way of corporations”; that is until their corporate buddies start floundering because of their own stupid greedy, high risk business practices and then these same idiot Republican leaders start ordering for tax payers to pay for their corporate buddies mistakes. Then just like in 2008 when George W. Bush gave over $900 billion in bailout to AIG, Fannie May & Freddy Mac, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, all of which are responsible for economic disaster we’re now in. Gingrich’s ties to Freddie Mac go back as far as 1999, soon after he left the House, and that he was consulted in the early days of the Bush administration on how to expand home ownership nationwide. Newt Gingrich reportedly earned $1.6 million while under contract to Freddie.

    1. Don'tTread says:

      Corporations embarked on “greedy, high risk business practices” because the federal gov’t and federal reserve encouraged such behaviors through the environments they created. CLINTON encouraged looser underwriting standards while guaranteeing security in the event of failure. Bush went on to fulfill that guarantee. The fed set loan standards for banks to allow for those activities to happen, then attempted to remedy it by continuing a destructive monetary policy. Democrats and Republicans have been no better at preventing or dealing these issues than the other.

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