Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul makes his York County debut this weekend with a town hall meeting in Rock Hill.
The Texas congressman will appear at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Freedom Center on East Main Street. Paul's visit may not generate quite the same level of excitement as the Bill Clinton rally there in October, but that Paul is campaigning here at all is noteworthy.
Eight months ago, Paul was a little-known member of the U.S. House making a longshot bid for the Republican nomination. He's still a longshot, but he has at least become part of the conversation.
"My feeling is it's going to be a packed house," said Kevin Smith of Fort Mill, a Paul campaign volunteer. "In fact, I'm concerned this place only seats 650 people. Once we get the word out, the supporter base out there is just huge. They come from everywhere."
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During a GOP presidential debate in Columbia in May, Paul was booed for suggesting U.S. policy in the Middle East helped to invite the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
But his message of ending the war in Iraq, lowering taxes, reining in spending and abolishing the Federal Reserve system has caught the attention of college students, disenchanted Republicans and even a few Democrats.
In November, Paul reportedly drew 300 people at a Spartanburg appearance and 700 people at an event in Clemson the next day. Supporters also banded together to raise $4 million online in one day, calling it a "money bomb."
An Associated Press poll released Tuesday found Paul in sixth place with 6 percent, up from the 1 percent or 2 percent he was getting a few months ago.
The invitation to Saturday's meeting promises curiosity-seekers a chance to spend some up-close moments with the candidate.
"There will be plenty of time allocated for you to meet Dr. Paul personally as he does want to meet you," it reads.