Pay Pals — Paul supporters reach into their pockets

Supporters of long-shot GOP presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) are putting their money where their mouth is — the Internet.

With the third quarter drawing to a close, the campaign said it expects to exceed the $2.4 million haul it brought in during the second quarter, even though fundraising is usually slower in the summer.

“We will exceed our fundraising from last quarter — by exactly how much is yet to be seen,” Paul’s communications director, Jesse Benton, said. “We have a lot of money coming in online and have also launched a successful high-dollar funder program.”

Paul supports libertarian positions and is the only GOP presidential candidate to speak out against the war in Iraq. He has been at the receiving end of harsh criticism from other candidates for his Iraq stance, including during Republican debates.

However, the same positions have made him the darling of the online community, with enthusiastic Paul supporters swamping opinion sites and swarming Internet polls.

As campaigns sprint toward the fundraising finish line, it seems the online community is stepping up its financial support of Paul.

The lawmaker’s website is urging supporters to give $500,000 in the week prior to the deadline, and it appears as though that goal will be surpassed easily.

Benton said the campaign sent out an e-mail announcing the initiative, which is also prominently featured on Paul’s website, at noon on Monday. A little more than a day later $170,000 had been raised, with additional donations coming in at a rate of a little more than $10,000 every hour.