Rep. Ron Paul inspires deep adulation from his supporters. But no one has ever accused "the good doctor" of being very cuddly. His kind of distant crank image was on display in two revealing moments of audience participation at the last Republican primary debate. When he said the government shouldn't intervene to save someone's life if they didn't buy health insurance, someone in the crowd shouted "Let him die!" When he said Osama bin Laden attacked America because he was provoked by our foreign policy, the crowd booed.
To maybe counter that perception, the Ron Paul campaign is launching a $1 million advertising campaign to show Paul's softer side. Their strategy does not include much of Paul.
The ad, that will air in early voting states, shows two emotional Vietnam veterans explain how no one thanked them for their service after the war -- except Paul, who fought to get them their medals. "Ron Paul is a veteran's best friend," one says. "It takes a veteran to understand a veteran," the other explains. The camera pans over photos of Paul when he was in the Air Force. (Paul was drafted into the military in the 1960s and opted to be a flight surgeon instead.) Politico's David Hirschhorn says that unlike previous Paul ads, which were "movie-trailer style" and focused on his libertarianism, this one is all about "the type of constituent service work Paul rarely discusses." Jonathan Martin jokes that there's no discussion of Austrian economics in this spot. Paul speaks only to say he approved the ad, as required by election law.
Paul's campaign says it's gotten more donations from active-duty military members than any other candidate, and says that's thanks to Paul's "calls to bring the troops home in order to defend the country as opposed to spending trillions policing and nation-building in foreign lands." And even though Paul doesn't talk about libertarianism in the ad, that message is still there, but subtle. There are no waving flags or other triumphant military imagery. Instead, the veterans talk about the huge losses their companies took in the war -- "Vietnam was hell."