It was business as usual Saturday night for both Ron Paul and Jillian's Billiards Club, where the Texas congressman held his final party of the S.C. Republican presidential primary.
The clinking of glasses and occasional cracking of billiard balls cut through the drone of the packed restaurant. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary – there were customers in seats, meals on tables and a wait staff on call. Columbia based rock band Rock Candy was ready to play their set in the front of the room as soon as the rally in the back ended.
The only deviations from a typical sports bar scene were the talking heads on television riffing about poll results, not batting averages, and bar-goers wearing Ron Paul shirts, not NFL jerseys.
For Paul, the night was about assuring his South Carolina followers that their movement was more important than vote. He seemed unfazed as the results of his fourth-place finish scrolled across the glowing big screens hanging around the bar. His time at the podium was spent reiterating the main points of his mission to return the U.S. to its constitutional roots and restore people's personal liberties.
"Momentum is growing," Paul said to an energetic room filled shoulder to shoulder with diverse supporters, from college students to retirees. "We have the message, the talent and the determination … and we will win the battle for peace and prosperity."
Paul's quick hits version of his policies evoked passionate response from the huddled mass, with chants of "End the Fed" and "President Paul" frequently interrupting him. He thanked the crowd for their unwavering support and said the "steady growth" of their cause was reason to be excited and confident for the future.
Michael Hollis, a 22-year-old student at USC, grinned from ear to ear as he lauded his candidate of choice, happy just to be a part of Paul's plan after missing the boat in the last presidential election.
"I was a McCain guy in '08," Hollis said. "About six months after that, I realized what a big mistake I'd made."
Lexington county resident Jim Hanks, 63, has been onboard with Paul since 1995 and has developed a deep devotion to the Texan's ideas. When asked if he would still vote if Paul doesn't receive the Republican nomination, he responded, "I'll do whatever Ron Paul asks me to do."