Since Ron Paul arrived in Washington more than 30 years ago, he has been spreading the same message of personal freedom and limited government, based on the Constitution and Austrian economics. Sound familiar? It should—Paul’s philosophy shares the same foundation that the Tea Party is built from.

Much of Paul’s platform aligns with the populist Tea Party movement, which has made a big difference for him this time around. At this point in 2007, the Gallup poll showed 3 percent for Paul, placing him seventh. This past Tuesday’s USA TODAY/Gallup poll reported Paul garnering 13 percent of support, putting him in a strong third-place position and making him the only candidate outside the two front runners in double digits. But Paul is still a long way from enjoying the level of support that the first tier candidates have. The question is whether 13 percent is as high as he can go.

His problem is his radicalism. His desire for smaller government goes far beyond a desire to limit the Federal Reserve, have less regulation on business, and levy less and fewer taxes—which was clear at this morning’s Christian Science Monitor breakfast. He wants to drastically reduce the size of the military, for one, almost scoffing at the idea that the US is an “exceptional nation.” He also wants us to excuse ourselves from international responsibility: with regard to the Eurozone crisis, he says “Greece should declare bankruptcy,” and the US “should stay out of it,” regardless of the consequences for the monetary and banking worlds.

When asked what is keeping him from breaking into the top tier, he explained that it’s because people either don’t want to hear what he has to say because it is so different from what they know, or they just don’t understand it and he needs to explain his ideas better.

Ron Paul is convinced he’s right. And he has his work cut out for him convincing the rest of us.

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