Ron Paul focusing on MN caucus, buys "substantial" airtime in state

Ron Paul: focusing on Minnesota while Romney and co. slug it out in Florida.
Ron Paul: focusing on Minnesota while Romney and co. slug it out in Florida.

Ron Paul, for one, isn't overlooking the Minnesota GOP presidential caucus, coming up on February 7.

Paul's campaign recently announced that it has purchased "substantial" airtime in Minnesota in advance of the oft-inconsequential event, which has added significance this year as Republicans continue to struggle to coalesce around a candidate.

The ad buy is reportedly part of Paul's strategy to quietly accumulate delegates in caucus states like Nevada and Minnesota while his opponents slug it out elsewhere, with the goal being to have maximum leverage this August at the RNC in Tampa.

One campaign spot Paul is running here is the Texas congressman's "Big Dog" ad. "Big Dog" has all the testosterone-fueled trappings of a monster truck rally commercial, complete with exploding government agencies and barking dogs.

Here it is, followed by a transcript:

What's up with these sorry politicians? Lots of bark! But when it's show time? Whimpering like little Shih-Tzus. You want big cuts? Ron Paul's been screaming it for years. Budget crisis? No problem. Cut a trillion bucks year one. That's trillion with a T. Department of Education? Gone! Interior? Energy? HUD? Commerce? Gone! Later, bureaucrats. That's how Ron Paul rolls. Want to drain the swamp? Ron Paul. Do it!

The MNGOP could not confirm that any other candidate is running TV ads in the state. With Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum preoccupied with the January 31 Florida primary, Paul has a nice opening to make his mark here in Minnesota, and he's employing a similar strategy in Nevada in advance of the silver state's February 4 caucus. 

A Daily Beast analysis suggests that Paul's caucus-and-delegate-focused strategy actually takes a play out of Barack Obama's playbook.

Daily Beast: Ron Paul's preoccupation with delegates is a page from Obama's 2008 playbook
Daily Beast: Ron Paul's preoccupation with delegates is a page from Obama's 2008 playbook
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.

The analysis makes the case that caucuses are perfect venues for candidates like Paul, who have intense supporters. Those supporters, however small in number, have the fervor to gain the support of undecided Republicans on caucus night.

During the 2008 Minnesota GOP presidential caucus, fourth-place Paul (16 percent of state delegates) was trounced by winner Mitt Romney (41 percent of state delegates -- eventually national GOP nominee John McCain came in second with 22 percent of state delegates). Will spots like "Big Dog" propel him to better results this time around? Perhaps -- especially if seen by Republicans who are susceptible to manly, high-energy truck commercials.

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