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AK: Could Ron Paul Win?

By Christopher Lee
Ron Paul will not merely do well in Alaska's GOP presidential caucuses, his supporters say. They believe the Texas congressman and well-known libertarian can top the field.

"We expect to win up here," said Matthew Peters, a lifelong Alaskan and the Paul campaign's state field director. "Alaska tends to go for the anti-establishment candidates or the alternative candidates, whatever you want to call them. I think we have a great chance."

Paul's brand of politics -- which favors gun rights, a strict interpretation of the Constitution, lower taxes and smaller government -- goes down well in a remote state with a strong libertarian streak, Peters said.

Alaska GOP voters have a history of unconventional picks for the presidential nomination. They chose Pat Buchanan in the Republican straw poll in 1996 and Pat Robertson in the party's caucuses in 1988. Business mogul Steve Forbes nearly beat George W. Bush in 2000.

Turnout at the GOP caucuses is usually low, which Peters said will be a boon to Paul. The Paul campaign has 13 paid staffers in the sate, has offices in Anchorage and Fairbanks and, unlike its competitors, has been running ads on radio and television.

"Turnout is key," Peters said. "We've got a nice list of supporters, and if they turn out we're going to swamp it. If 50 percent show up, it'll be pretty close. We're pretty optimistic."

As for the other GOP hopefuls, Mitt Romney has the backing of Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (R), and one of Romney's sons campaigned in the state last week. Mike Huckabee's wife was in Alaska over the weekend, and Huckabee has the backing of Rep. Don Young (R), who was congressional chairman of Huckabee's presidential exploratory committee.

John McCain, the national front-runner, has not endeared himself to many Alaska Republicans with his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and his ties to Americans for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group that supports tougher gun laws, said Peters.

The biggest obstacle for voters may be the weather. At midday it was 3 degrees in Anchorage and minus 33 in Fairbanks.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 5, 2008; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , B_Blog , Mitt Romney , Primaries , Ron Paul , The GOP , West  
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