On the afternoon of July 6, 2007, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas emerged from his taxi to what was becoming a shockingly familiar sight: Dozens of fans waving handmade or Internet-bought “Ron Paul” signs.
They had been waiting outside the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., for up to 45 minutes, ready to greet the long-shot Republican presidential candidate as he arrived for an interview with George Stephanopoulos, chief Washington correspondent for ABC News. The famous interviewer had walked into the hotel minutes earlier, smiling at the crowd, but was barely noticed. The obscure congressman was greeted with shouts, cheers, and a bunch of hand-held cameras.
I asked Paul about reports that his rival Sen. John McCain—then cratering in the polls—might take public financing. “He needs it,” Paul said, chuckling. “We don’t need it!”
Inside the hotel the politician known as “Dr. No” told Stephanopoulos his campaign had raised $2.4 million in the second quarter, quadrupling his numbers from...