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March 1, 2012 at 11:40 AM

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Paul campaign HQ whirls ahead of caucuses

Ron Paul hasn't yet won a state in the Republican Party's 2012 presidential contest, but his dedicated fans in Washington state are working overtime to deliver him a victory in Saturday's caucuses.

A visit to his Bellevue campaign headquarters Wednesday found the place humming with the atmosphere of a political sales floor.

Dozens of volunteers, mostly in their 20s and 30s, chowed on Thai food as they frenetically worked the phone bank. Some clutched a handset in each hand as they dialed potential GOP caucus-goers. They rang bells and cheered every time someone verified a Paul supporter planning to caucus.

The Paul campaign has been visibly organizing in Washington state longer than any of his rivals. They're hoping the caucuses, which reward dedicated grassroots campaigns, will favor the Texas congressman.

Sarah Franklin, a 22-year-old University of Washington student said she's been at the campaign office every day this week.

"I wasn't political before I heard about Ron Paul," Franklin said, but this year she flew on her own dime to campaign for him in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

Franklin said she believes Paul is right to call for $1 trillion in cuts to the federal budget in his first year as president.

"Our country was founded on the idea we can go out and do this on our own. That's ultimately what I believe in," she said.

Elliott Neff, 34, who runs a small business teaching chess to kids, said he's spent many hours volunteering, including calling 499 registered voters in his own Bellevue precinct.

Neff compared Paul to the Founding Fathers and said he's the only candidate who has shown he'd fundamentally change the direction of the country. He wasn't impressed by any of the other GOP candidates: "What I hear from them is rhetoric."

Whether the Paul effort will succeed Saturday is unclear - his campaign has already started to make noise about alleged "shenanigans" by party leaders to deny him a victory - but the devotion of his volunteers is not in doubt.

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