Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 | 2 a.m.
The Ron Paul crowd in Reno on Thursday night was young and cool — there was a waxed mustache; someone complained about the venue’s lack of PBR, the hipster beer of the moment; and a recent college grad sold homemade Paul T-shirts outside.
Inside, the young audience was loud and engaged, creating the rock concert-like atmosphere that has characterized the Texas congressman’s campaign stops.
If Paul was a television show, he’d hit the perfect demographic — 18 to 34 — and given his four-plus years on the national scene, probably would be in syndication by now.
In politics, however, it’s a decidedly older and less cool demographic that dominates. And Paul isn’t doing well in the Nevada polls.
A UNLV survey this week put him in fourth, behind Mitt Romney, the front-runner; Newt Gingrich, the former speaker; and Rick Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania who has given up on making any kind of showing in Saturday’s Republican caucuses.
Paul will need to reach beyond libertarians and college students to see a broader audience if he’s to reach the second-place finish some in his camp say is within reach.
Sharon Holmes, 49, is not a hipster. The lifelong Republican and office manager wasn’t sure who, if anyone, she’d support.
Then her twin 19-year-old boys started talking about Paul, as did their friends. On Saturday she got a call from the campaign, asking for her support.
Holmes plans to attend her first caucus in 12 years in Nevada and support Paul.
She was at the Paul rally Thursday night but wasn’t interested in the candidate’s promise to “end the Fed,” withdraw the country from foreign entanglements or retreat from the drug war — the usual factors in fervent Paul support.
“I like his home values,” she said, as she flipped through a pamphlet titled “Paul Family Cookbook.” “I like that it all starts at home and a stable family life.”
Paul’s speech touched on monetary policy and his opposition to the Patriot Act. He criticized Obama’s executive order that allows the killing of U.S. citizens.
“It’s not quite believable. We’ve already assassinated three people,” he said.
Even World War II war criminals received trials, he said.
Saturday will tell whether efforts to broaden Paul’s base of support have paid off. The campaign has spent four years building an organization to capture delegates in Nevada and other caucus states.
If his libertarian message can’t carry in Nevada, where will it?