Paul puts cam­paign be­fore duty

Misses all but nine votes this year de­spite light sched­ule on stump

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Rep. Ron Paul has missed 93 per­cent of all floor votes in Congress this year as he’s fo­cused on his pres­i­den­tial bid, even as he’s kept one of the lighter cam­paign sched­ules of any of the can­di­dates.

All told, Mr. Paul has been in the House cham­ber for just nine of the 142 votes taken through Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. Dur­ing that time, he missed the final vote on the pay­roll-tax-cut ex­ten­sion, a pay freeze for mem­bers of Congress, a crack­down on con­gres­sional in­sider trad­ing, and repeal of part of the new health care law.

Cam­paign man­ager Jesse Ben­ton said it’s a bal­anc­ing act, and the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign is the pri­or­ity.

“Dr. Paul is try­ing to make im­por­tant votes when his par­tic­i­pa­tion could mean a bill passes or fails, but his at­ten­tion is 100 per­cent fo­cused on his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign,” Mr. Ben­ton said.

He and fel­low Rep. Michele Bach­mann also missed most votes at the end of last year, when they both spent time in Iowa and other early pri­mary states. Mrs. Bach­mann dropped out of the pres­i­den­tial race in early Jan­uary, af­ter the Iowa cau­cuses.

Mr. Paul has con­tin­ued, though he is the only re­main­ing can­di­date who has yet to win a pri­mary.

He has said he is count­ing on pick­ing up del­e­gates as the process plays out in cau­cus states such as Colorado, where vot­ers met ear­lier this year but del­e­gates won’t be bound to can­di­dates un­til dis­trict and state con­ven­tions in mid-april.

One of the votes Mr. Paul did make came Jan. 18, when he broke away from the cam­paign trail in South Carolina and re­turned to Washington to vote against a debt-limit in­crease, and cast two other bal­lots.

The debt-limit vote gave Mr. Paul a chance to high­light one of his strengths: He is the only can­di­date who still holds of­fice, and the only one whose day job al­lows him to go head-to-head with Pres­i­dent Obama.

The other day Mr. Paul voted was Feb. 28, when he was al­ready in town to hold a rally in North­ern Virginia that night, ahead of the state’s March 6 pri­mary. He cast six votes that day.

On Wed­nes­day, Mr. Paul was also in town — he had an evening rally sched­uled for Col­lege Park, just across the Mary­land bor­der about 25 min­utes from the Capi­tol. But he missed all four floor votes held Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Mr. Ben­ton said Mr. Paul missed those votes be­cause he was rais­ing money, do­ing in­ter­views and pre­par­ing for a ma­jor speech at the rally.

Rachel Mills, a spokes­woman for his con­gres­sional of­fice, said Mr. Paul “does try to make votes that are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant.”

Miss­ing votes is com­mon for can­di­dates. Dur­ing the 2008 cam­paign, thenSen. Barack Obama missed nearly twothirds of floor votes, while his op­po­nent Sen. John Mccain missed about 80 per­cent. In 2004, Sen. John F. Kerry missed 90 per­cent of floor votes.

But that year, even as he also ran for the GOP’S nom­i­na­tion, Mr. Paul made 82 of the 107 votes held up un­til March 6, when he an­nounced he was wind­ing down his cam­paign. And he used his floor vote to take a stand on a num­ber of key votes that year, in­clud­ing be­ing the sole House law­maker to vote against a res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Pales­tinian at­tacks on Is­rael.

This year, Mr. Paul has been ab­sent far more of­ten, though he’s main­tained a rel­a­tively light public cam­paign sched­ule.

He’s held fewer events than any of the other three can­di­dates still in the race, and reg­u­larly takes days off en­tirely. He’s had public events sched­uled on just 10 of the 20 week­days so far this month, ac­cord­ing to’s can­di­date tracker.

“It is sur­pris­ing that Ron Paul has missed so many con­gres­sional votes when he has a light cam­paign sched­ule,” said Dar­rell M. West, di­rec­tor of gov­er­nance stud­ies at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion.

Mr. Paul has al­ready an­nounced he isn’t run­ning for re-elec­tion to his Texas con­gres­sional seat, and Democrats are ea­gerly eye­ing it as a po­ten­tial pickup.

“The folks in South­east Texas de­serve a whole lot bet­ter than a 6 per­cent at­ten­dance rate,” one Texas Demo­cratic Party of­fi­cial said.

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