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Since Sunday, 22 percent of the student body has signed a petition to bring Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas) to Hillsdale.

Kyle Forti and Mike Mor­rison are leading the effort to bring the pres­i­dential can­didate to speak on campus. So far, 315 stu­dents have signed the petition. Forti and Mor­rison have met with the admin­is­tration about logis­tical issues, found a potential sponsor for the talk (the Clas­sical Liberal Orga­ni­zation), and worked to coor­dinate efforts with the Hillsdale County grass­roots group that sup­ports Paul.

Forti keeps the cam­paign updated on the petition’s results. If Paul comes to campus, it will probably be before Michigan’s primary on Feb­ruary 28.

“It’s up to us to show the Paul cam­paign that we have the support to warrant his trying to come out and visit,” Mor­rison said.

A stop from the OB-GYN-turned-pres­i­dential can­didate is far from certain –– there has to be space for a speech, the admin­is­tration has to give the talk a go-ahead, and Paul’s cam­paign has to be per­suaded that there’s enough support in Hillsdale to make a visit worth fitting into its tight schedule.

But despite the chal­lenges, Forti is opti­mistic about the pos­si­bility of a speech from the can­didate.

“I think there’s a great chance that some­thing pos­itive could work out,” he said.

Forti started Hillsdale’s Youth for Paul chapter in December. Since then, it has grown to 68 members, becoming the second largest chapter in the state.

Paul isn’t just popular on campus. He won 17 percent of the Hillsdale County vote when he ran for pres­ident in 2008, making it his most sup­portive Mid­western county.

Since 2008, his nationwide support has grown. Forti is one of many con­verts who have flocked to his camp.

“I used to be an ardent non-Ron Paul sup­porter, a Ron Paul hater,” he said. “Back in 2008, I probably would have sup­ported anybody but the good doctor because I thought his sup­porters were nuts, I thought they were crazy.”

Since then, though, he said he became dis­il­lu­sioned with how the right wing com­mu­ni­cates its political message.

“What I’m attempting to do is avoid pro­pa­ganda, and that led me to support Ron Paul because I see just as much pro­pa­ganda from the other [repub­lican] can­di­dates as I do with Barack Obama,” he said.

Forti said that despite Paul’s slim chance of winning the Repub­lican nom­i­nation, sup­porting his cam­paign is important.

“I’m not so starry-eyed and Paul-Bot to assume he’s going to pull off a miracle,” Forti said, “but the pri­maries are for sup­porting a can­didate who you most identify yourself with and who you can get behind in prin­ciple, and that’s what we’re doing here.”