Ron Paul Ignores Florida, Super PAC does Not

| by Reason Foundation

By Brian Doherty

While the candidate himself and his official campaign are putting little effort into winning Florida's winner-take-all, only-50, closed-primary delegates, a Ron Paul SuperPAC announces it's going to spend $1.4 million on Paul-promoting ads in the state.

This SuperPAC, called Endorse Liberty, is run by experienced digital marketers into Paul. They have apparently spent thousand already on makeup and costumes to promote Paul. (The PAC has not responded to an inquiry from me today.)

Marketing news site Clikz reports on the PAC's operators and strategy:

A cheeky Facebook campaign helped Orabrush get its tongue cleaning brushes on Walmart shelves. Now the company's founder and marketing manager, both in their 20s, are putting their digital marketing expertise to work for Ron Paul through the Super PAC they helped start. The group, Endorse Liberty, has already spent $2.78 million on online advertising since its establishment just one month ago.

Jeffrey Harmon, 29 (right), and Abe Niederhauser, 28 (left) are among four founding members of Endorse Liberty, which calls itself "an alliance of entrepreneurs, inventors and creators who have come together to promote the cause of liberty as the founding principle that powers America." So far, the group has focused its efforts on supporting Ron Paul's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, and spent around 98 percent of its total $2.85 million ad budget thus far on web advertising - mainly with Google and Facebook...

Endorse Liberty also counts Stephen Oskoui, the founder and CEO of digital ad firm Smiley Media among its founders. Oskoui, in his early 30s, is the independent expenditure group's president and a board member, along with Harmon.

The only older member of the founding four is Ladd Christensen, founder of Whitehall Ventures and an Endorse Liberty board member. According to Niederhauser, Christensen is the only of the group's originators with political campaign experience. Coincidentally, Christensen has professional ties to former 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, who served as the governor of Utah, where Christensen, Harmon, and Niederhauser reside.

Recognizing Ron Paul's appeal to young voters, the group has aimed most of its Facebook display ads and pre-roll video ads on Google-owned YouTube to young conservatives and other younger people....

Before the Iowa Caucuses, Endorse Liberty targeted ads to Iowa Republicans on Facebook. They linked to a 12-minute interactive video on YouTube that allowed people to post a message in support of Paul on their Facebook pages. The video served to persuade Iowa Caucus voters to support Paul, as well as to educate people on the best way to support his candidacy in other states.

Politico reports on Endorse Liberty shifting its filing frequency so it doesn't have to report donors until the end of this month, and notes that:

Endorse Liberty has focused much of its expenditures on Internet advertisements — from Google to Facebook to — and most notably produced parody videos depicting actors, dressed as Romney, Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, among others.

Endorse Liberty's YouTube page. One of its ads on Paul v. Romney:

Daily Beast with another go at Paul's strategy moving forward to concentrate on caucus states, also announcing that this is Rick Santorum's plan as well, and provides some useful recent-historical context:

 a smart but underfunded campaign can adjust its strategy to focus on states where it can get the most bang for its buck and accumulate delegates in excess of its total support. See: Barack Obama, 2008. Although Hillary Clinton edged out Obama in high-turnout primaries in traditional Democratic strongholds like Massachusetts and California, she was trounced in the delegate count in low-turnout caucuses like Minnesota and Idaho. At the end of the contest, Obama and Clinton were nearly deadlocked in the total national popular vote, but Obama had eked out a narrow but decisive lead in the delegate count.

Taking the Obama tack this year are the two insurgent candidates, Ron Paul and now Santorum. Paul has long maintained that his focus is on caucus states and collecting delegates. “It’s all about the delegates,” he’s fond of saying, and he means it. He’s effectively skipping the winner-takes-all-delegates contest in Florida, a very expensive state to campaign in (and which lost half its delegates as a penalty for moving its primary day up without the party’s permission). The Texas congressman won’t even be in Florida on the night of its Jan. 31 primary.

Dan Schnur, a Republican strategist who has worked for both George H.W. Bush and John McCain, characterizes caucuses as perfect venues for candidates like Paul, “with smaller numbers of supporters who are very intense about the campaign.” Such dedicated backers can produce outsize results in caucuses, which demand a high level of participation that lowers the number of people who do in fact participate, leaving them open to being overwhelmed by a relative handful of motivated supporters of a candidate. In fact, Schnur said, while “Paul may not want to admit it, he’s taking a page out of the Obama playbook.”

My forthcoming book, Ron Paul's Revolution.