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Is Paul's Military Support Significant?

The Houston Chronicle today reports that more members of the Armed Forces have ponied up to Texas Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign than to any other candidate. Significant? Perhaps, but some would be right to be skeptical.

Paul supporters will argue that the amount of money military men and women have given him -- $63,440, more than any other contender -- is because he is the only Republican who supports ending U.S. involvement in Iraq. Military personnel tend to lean Republican, and given the outlet of an anti-war candidate (and surely at least a few members of the military are against the war, despite what those on the right or left will tell you), they flocked to Paul.

Bolstering that claim: Second on the list, another war opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, at $53,968.

Every time candidates are required to file FEC reports, media outlets will rush to show that some received hundreds of thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars from one law firm or one Wall Street brokerage, or, in this case, members of the military. Don't buy into it.

Ron Paul has raised an astonishing $8.2 million. The $63,000 from members of the military represents less than one percent of his campaign haul. The $53,000 Obama received represents less than one-tenth of one percent of the nearly $79 million he's raised.

Small fractions of a candidate's treasury, from any group, are insignificant representations of a candidate's support. They are also insufficient grounds on which to accuse a candidate of being bought, as we're sure Democratic and Republican campaign committees will do to their opponents often this year (the NRCC sent one out just the other day).

Paul's support, in the end, goes a lot deeper than just one crowd. So does Obama's, and, for that matter, virtually every candidate's. No one should get credit, or be pigeonholed, for the sources of tiny bits of their campaign treasuries.

Though Paul may want to take credit for some of his more creative donors, per WSJ's Susan Davis: One donor listed his occupation as "tax slave to the Federal Govt." Another's employer: "Our children." Other great occupations: "Curmudgeon" and "Citizen Fighting Tyranny."

The campaign has set an incredibly ambitious goal of raising $4 million in October and $12 million total in the 4th Quarter. With 13 days to go, Paul is up to $1,119,052 for the quarter, a statistic measured in real time on his campaign's website (as of 9:35 am -- it changed three times while this column was looking at the site).