He had been the darling of the Tea Party when it first sprouted in 2009, thanks largely to his book, The Revolution, in which he laid out his political and economic agenda. He was the sole Libertarian and the frontrunner for the GOP nomination until the religious fundamentalists took over the Tea Party and the campaign in general. Of course, you knew this love affair with Paul couldn't last, but still he managed to build a loyal following and amass almost enough delegates to put him on the GOP podium, while other Republican challengers fell to the wayside.
I guess the question remains why is the GOP afraid of challengers like Paul who truly do stand behind fiscal conservatism. You hear all this lip service to better economic management and this Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge, but when pressed to come up with an actual budget, it simply doesn't add up. Not that Paul had the magic bullet, but it was fun to watch him shake up the GOP and put Romney, Santorum and Gingrich on the defensive.