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Ron Paul plans to skip Florida. Will his strategy backfire?

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

(Read caption) Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas signs autographs during his South Carolina presidential primary election night rally in Columbia, S.C., Saturday.

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If you live in Florida, expect to see a lot of advertisements in the coming week for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich – but not Ron Paul.

The Texas congressman is still in the race, and will be debating his opponents (including Mr. Romney, Mr. Gingrich, and Rick Santorum) Monday night. But Mr. Paul isn't planning to campaign in such a big state. 


For starters, because it is so big. And expensive.

In his speech after the South Carolina primary Saturday night (in which Paul finished fourth, with 13 percent of the vote), Paul told supporters, "We will certainly be promoting this in the most frugal way.”

He also emphasized what his goal is right now: "In the beginning, I thought it would just be promotion of a cause. Then it dawned on me, when you win elections and you win delegates, that’s the way you promote a cause.”

All of which means, while the other candidates zero in on Florida and the Jan. 31 primary, Paul will be looking to the West and the North and, in particular, to states that award their delegates to this August's Republican National Convention in ways that could help him.

What's wrong with Florida? Not only is it expensive to advertise there, but it's a winner-take-all primary – meaning that only the winner would leave with delegates to show for his time and money. (Florida is also likely to be penalized for moving its primary forward on the election calendar; the Republican Party could strip the state of some of its delegates.)

Moreover, Florida is the first of the early-nominating states to hold a closed primary, meaning that only registered Republicans can participate. For Paul, who draws much of his support from independents, that's not good news. And it has an older electorate, whereas Paul draws much of his support from younger voters.


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