Matt Lewis
I just got off the phone with Jesse Benton, communications director for Ron Paul.  

Benton reiterated what he told me this morning -- that more than 70 percent of Ron Paul's $5 million this quarter came from the internet.  These numbers aren't 100 percent confirmed, but I'm told the numbers are very solid.  (The campaign is hoping to have exact numbers on Monday.)

Benton told me that the campaign raised more money online than even they expected.  For example, the campaign set a goal to raise $500,000 online in the last week before the deadline, but ended up raising about $1.2 million.

When asked about Ron Paul's ability to raise money online, despite his not being an internet aficionado, Benton said: "Ron's a little bit more web savvy than people give him credit for," but also admitted, "he's not Mr. Facebook, or anything."

Benton believes much of Paul's internet success is due to not trying to reinvent the wheel. 

For example, he described John McCain's attempt to build his own social network as a disaster. 

"We're using Eventful, Meetup, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace -- proven social networking sites that consumers already like, Benton told me.  "We used what was already in place ... We're using proven, effective tools..."

Of course, I asked him the perfunctory Howard Dean comparison question ... 

Benton told me that unlike Howard Dean, Ron Paul, "has had a legitimate following for over twenty years."  He also added that "the internet ... has matured a little bit and is more capable of translating online activism to on-the-ground organization."

Ron Paul's internet fundraising has been nothing short of remarkable.  Like him or not, his campaign deserves credit for exceeding our expectations ...

Matt Lewis

Matt Lewis is conservative writer and blogger based in Alexandria, VA.

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