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For much of the 2008 campaign, Texas lawmaker and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and his supporters served as a thorn in the side—or a punching bag—for the mainstream GOP establishment. Yet today, the six men vying to run the Republican National Committee praised the grassroots enthusiasm Paul tapped into during his campaign—and discussed how they would like to capture that enthusiasm to expand the party’s appeal. “Ron Paul certainly brought a whole new generation of voters and I think it’s important going forward that we recognize the strengths and the attributes of these individuals who are out there actively building the party and building a movement, a consensus if you will, on certain issues. We can’t look that in the eye and say ‘No, we don’t want that,’” said former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, adding that the RNC needs to find “creative ways” to work with candidates supported by Paul and his followers, and to work with Paul directly to that end.