Paul to skip Florida, look for delegates in Nevada, Minnesota

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Ron Paul will not compete in Florida’s Republican primary, instead focusing on the caucus states of Nevada and Minnesota.

In his victory speech Saturday night after finishing fourth in the South Carolina primary, Paul told supporters he would promote his message as cheaply as possible.

“We will certainly be promoting this in the most frugal way,” he said. “We will be going to the caucus states, and we will be promoting the whole idea of getting more delegates, because that’s the name of the game.”

The campaign has made substantial ad buys in Nevada and Minnesota, both states with February caucuses. Florida is the largest of the early primary states and arguably the most grueling early state in which to campaign. It also has some of the most expensive media markets in America.

The cash-flush Mitt Romney is already running ads there. And Newt Gingrich, though he won the South Carolina primary decisively, is expected to face serious challenges in organizing a strong Florida campaign.

Twenty-eight Republican delegates are up for grabs in Nevada, 40 in Minnesota.

Paul, with his message of auditing and then ending the Federal Reserve, using the gold standard for U.S. currency and bringing the troops home from abroad, insisted in his Saturday night speech that he is trying to win, despite pundits’ general agreement that he is merely a “message candidate.”

“I’ve been in this process of promoting the cause of liberty in the electoral process for a long time. At the beginning, I thought it was going to be a promotion of a cause,” Paul said. “Then it dawned on me that if you win elections and win delegates, that’s the way you promote a cause.”

Paul was largely absent from South Carolina during the week leading up to Saturday’s primary, traveling to Washington, D.C. to vote against the latest proposal to raise the federal debt ceiling. He participated in a pro-life forum Wednesday via satellite, participated in Thursday’s debate and held a half-dozen public events Friday.

Paul’s supporters showed their appreciation Saturday night for his decision to leave the campaign trail to cast a vote in Congress.

“Looking ahead, we see a lengthy, 50-state national campaign,” said Paul’s national campaign chairman Jesse Benton in a statement. “Dr. Paul is fully prepared to win.”

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