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Paul builds Nevada support

RENO — For Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, campaigning in Nevada is like preaching to the choir.

"I personally get energized by coming to a state like this that loves the message of freedom and limited government and the Constitution," the Texas congressman told reporters Tuesday amid a two-day campaign trip in Nevada.

Paul’s frank talk about cutting back government services is an easy fit in a state with a strong libertarian streak. His push to pull troops out of Iraq, unique among the GOP field, has won him attention.

Paul held large rallies on Monday in Southern Nevada, then headed to Northern Nevada on Tuesday. Nevada will hold the third GOP caucus in the nation on Jan. 19.

Among Paul’s backers Tuesday was brothel owner Denis Hof, owner of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch. Hof, the star of an HBO reality series, appeared at a news conference with Paul. "Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t he?" Hof said, flanked by two prostitutes.

Paul also was scheduled to attend a private fundraising luncheon followed by a campus rally. He was to wrap up the day meeting with rural GOP leaders in Carson City.

His campaign, considered a long shot, got a huge boost on Nov. 5 when a grassroots fundraising effort raised more than $4 million, setting a one-day, online GOP fundraising record. "We will continue, I believe, to grow our campaign exponentially," he said. "Something big is going on."

Paul, a physician, adheres to a strict interpretation of the Constitution. He advocates a return to the gold standard; abolishing the income tax, CIA and Federal Reserve; and replacing government programs with "individual liberty and responsibility."

While his direct tone is refreshing, his doctrine of unwavering constitutionalism probably will keep Paul on the fringes of the Republican race for the White House, said Eric Herzik, a Republican and political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"The more serious he becomes, say, in the media, in the process, then those questions will be asked, and that’s where his campaign stalls," Herzik predicted.

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