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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential longshot Ron Paul became an Internet fund-raising sensation this week by bringing in $4.3 million in 24 hours through a Web drive by supporters.
The fund-raising by Paul, a Texas congressman who is the only Republican to oppose the Iraq war and who has argued for a limited government, was almost as much he took in from July to September. During that time period, he raised $5 million.
But Paul has been outpaced by Republican rivals who have raised tens of millions of dollars. Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, raked in more than $6.5 million during a daylong telephone marathon in January.
"The message is powerful and the level of frustration in this country that people are sick and tired of what they're getting," Paul told the MSNBC network on Tuesday. "They don't like the war and they don't like the economy. And they like the answers that I've been giving."
The Houston obstetrician-gynecologist has been a fierce critic of the Iraq war, calling for withdrawing U.S. troops. He also has said free trade deals and international groups like the World Trade Organization threaten U.S. independence.
Paul's campaign set a goal of raising $12 million by December 31. His spokesman Jesse Benton called Monday's results a record for online fund-raising in a single day for the primary nominating contest for the November 2008 presidential election.
The online drive for Paul was done to coincide with a day in British history when rebels, including Guy Fawkes, plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Fawkes was captured and tortured to turn in his brethren.
While the Paul campaign and a top supporter who helped organize the online drive, Trevor Lyman, said they were not advocating such violence, they argued the lawmaker's candidacy was about taking back control of the government.
"Ron Paul is the only one who talks about our Constitution, our founding document," Lyman said in a telephone interview. "We want America as it's been."
Paul has registered only in single digits in most opinion polls. But he recently spent $1.1 million on advertising in the early primary voting state of New Hampshire.
"His success in fund-raising shows that he's tapped into some deep attitudes of dissatisfaction in the electorate, but that doesn't mean that that financial ability will translate into votes in the primaries," said Anthony Corrado, a government professor at Colby College in Maine.
Editing by Lori Santos and John O'Callaghan