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      Local supporters rally for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul

      Voting was taking place more than a thousand miles to the west but dozens of Ron Paul supporters from Central New York came together at the Ramada Inn in Liverpool on Tuesday night to watch the Iowa caucus results. None of the other Republican front runners had a local party but Paul's libertarian message has attracted a passionate following here in the Syracuse area and across the country.

      "I think we really need to put the power back in the hands of the people. government has gotten so big and we've really lost track of big government," said Paul supporter Mike Gorham.

      Ron Paul was viewed by many as a fringe candidate for several years and he wasn't taken seriously by many fellow republicans. As bailouts and debt limits became household terms, Ron Paul's small government, lower spending views moved into the mainstream.

      "He was kind of a fringe candidate in 2007 back when everyone laughed at him for predicting the economic collapse. when it turned out to be true, people started taking a second look," said Syracuse area volunteer coordinator David Andrew Gay.

      Paul has received criticism recently for allowing racially charged articles to be published in a newsletter with his name on it in the 80's and 90's. In interviews, he has apologized and said he should have known more about what was being printed. Paul's supporters here in New York say the attacks just show that traditional politicians are worried that Paul could win the nomination.

      "We're bringing a lot of new people to the process. If anyone's growing the republican party - it's the Ron Paul people," said Gay. "If anyone's involved in Central New York in the presidential campaign right now - it's the Ron Paul people."

      Many Republican strategists are skeptical Ron Paul can win the parties nomination but admit that his strong support proves he should be taken seriously. Some say even if Paul can't win the nomination, his endorsement could decide who the eventual nominee will be.