PHILADELPHIA (CNN) -- Darryl Williams and Benjamin Kline were shivering before the speech even started, their black umbrella no match for the steady rain and brisk Philadelphia wind. Even as water hit their faces, though, they were smiling, excited at the thought of seeing Ron Paul.
Williams and Kline are true believers. They are two men who in spite of political reality and weather still come out to support their "ideal candidate." They don't care that many have crowned Mitt Romney the presumptive nominee or that it is now mathematically impossible for Paul to win the Republican nomination before the convention. They just know who they support.
"We believe he is the best candidate," Williams said.
Not everyone agrees, though, and the electoral math is against the 12-term congressman from Texas. On Tuesday, Romney swept Paul in all five states that voted. And even if Paul were to win every single delegate from now until the convention he wouldn't be able to win the nomination, according to analysis by CNN Political Research Director Rob Yoon.
To Paul's most passionate followers, though, it doesn't matter that Paul has earned only an estimated 76 delegates (although his supporters challenge that number), compared with Romney's 841. It doesn't matter that Paul has yet to win a single state.
It doesn't matter, said Kline, "with or without [Paul], the movement is going to carry on."
Kline and Williams are just two of the hundreds of thousands of Ron Paul supporters across the country -- hairstylists, chiropractors, sailors and students -- who have been energized by the congressman from Texas' third run for the White House. Now, as his chances have all but evaporated -- he is still hoping to challenge the presumptive nominee Romney at the GOP convention in Tampa this summer, but party rules may not even allow his name on the ballot -- a core of fans continue to turn out at rallies, flood internet comment boards and gather in big cities and small towns, to keep the movement alive.
They still believe.
Paul has already announced that he is retiring from the House this year. If he fails to win the presidency, his political career, a career that started in the late 70s, is over. That has left his followers grappling with their unabashed support for the 76-year old doctor and their commitment to the movement.
Once a Democrat, now a Paul fan
Standing under an awning at the Philadelphia rally is Kathy Cahalan, a woman from Clearwater, Florida who for 33 years voted as a Democrat but was so moved by Paul that she re-registered as a Republican so she could vote for him this year. Though she voted for then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, she said she regrets it now.
Cahalan one of a few people who follows the Paul campaign around the country, going to different events in different primary states.
Dave Wilcox, a 22-year veteran of the Navy, had met Cahalan earlier in the campaign. As they talk, a young group of supporters walk by chanting "End the Fed," a slogan that has become a staple at a Paul event.
To Wilcox and Cahalan, Paul has become the conduit for a message. Do they respect and admire him? Absolutely. But both say that the movement is bigger than him and will continue when he bows out of politics.
"We are trying to educate the GOP. That is the main message. Once we get back to the Constitution, it doesn't matter who the banner carrier is," Wilcox said, gesturing to the chanting students. "It could be anybody, as long as they hear this message."
Borderline hero worshipers
That attitude contrasts with the eager exuberance of Anastasios Hatzakos, a chiropractor from Easton, Penn.
Listening to Hatzakos talk about where he agrees with Paul is like listening to the candidate's greatest hits album. Ending the Fed, cutting the deficit, no foreign entanglements, repealing the National Defense Authorization Act -- Hatzakos mentioned all of them. He went on to say there is not one policy that he disagrees with Paul on.
Should he not make the ballot, Hatzakos said, "I would write him in. I would never vote for anyone else, because they are all the same."
While Paul's base is a wide spectrum of support, there are a number of people who would fall into the category of hero worshipers.
In an interview with CNN, Paul says that sort of support makes him uncomfortable.
"I think they over-praise me at times," Paul said. "I keep saying maybe they have been over starved because I don't see my qualifications quite the way they do. They over-praise. It makes me uncomfortable, but obviously it pleases me."
Though many see Paul as the figurehead attached to the movement, Paul says he sees his role in a lesser light.
"I am sort of like a spokesman for them," Paul said. "I don't call them followers. I call them partners in this because they understand the same thing that I understand."
The 'movement' will go on
And Paul believes it is a good thing that the future of the movement is