COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is already looking past the South Carolina primary Saturday with plans to make the most of a few states that could be more receptive to his libertarian, Internet-driven message.
"It's very important, but it's not do or die," Paul told Fox News. "We expect to pick up some delegates ... we'll continue on."
Paul had campaigned in seven cities Friday before the first-in-the-South primary, explaining that he hoped his support for limited government and greater personal freedom would resonate in their state.
"We want a free society and a prosperous society, and we are on the verge of a victory for those issues today," Paul said in Greenville.
His campaign announced that it had purchased a substantial ad buy in Nevada and Minnesota, two states holding caucuses next month. His advisers are crafting a strategy built on President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign model, urging supporters to organize themselves online and show up at caucuses to gain a significant number of delegates.
Paul planned to largely skip Florida, which holds its primary Jan. 31. He did plan to appear in two debates there next week.
Paul had a limited presence in South Carolina compared to weeks of heavy face-to-face campaigning in Iowa, where he placed third behind Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, and in New Hampshire, where he came in second to Romney.
The Texas congressman participated in two nationally televised debates in South Carolina but hosted few campaign events. He even left the state for a full day Wednesday to fly back to Washington to cast a symbolic vote against raising the debt ceiling.
Paul's message found some traction in South Carolina, but his call to vastly cut military spending has its limits in a state home to many military bases and veterans. Still, his advisers believe Paul's loyal base of supporters could push him past Rick Santorum and into a solid third place finish behind Romney and Newt Gingrich.
Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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