Rep. Ron Paul is running stronger than any other libertarian GOP candidate ever, including his own several bids. Still, everyone, even he, knows that Paul will not become President. Paul’s various stump and post-election speeches never allude to his governance, only the message he and his liberty minded supporters are sending to the Washington establishment. Campaigning is hard work for a 76-year-old, so why does Paul do it? Paul wants a seat at the RNC table, maybe a prime time slot for his son, and if they know what is good for them, they should oblige.
If Paul continues to fight and win about 11-15% of the popular vote, Shout Bits estimates that he will win a maximum of 100 delegates from a system rigged to favor the front-runner. Even if Gingrich and Romney split their delegates, Paul would be an unlikely king maker due to the 165 unbound RNC delegates. The RNC fat-cats would use their muscle to overcome any Paul action it finds impolitic (which essentially means Gingrich or Santorum must beat Romney by several hundred delegates to actually win the nomination). So, Paul can’t use his clout to buy a cabinet seat veto, let alone an appointment for himself or his son.
Paul knows he will never wield any heavy power in Washington. He knows that the RNC barely tolerates his daily attacks on their big-government-equals-big-donations money machine. The GOP establishment is openly hostile to his no-interventionist foreign policy and personal-liberty-trumps-all drug policy. Still, polls show that for every Paul vote, another voter supports him but tactically chooses to support a more electable candidate. Indeed, one poll shows that in a two man general matchup, Paul is within a few points of Pres. Obama, despite the huge recognition gap.
One in five Republicans identify with a liberty first message. Just as important, Paul has a passionate youth base that the GOP must maintain to avoid slipping into irrelevancy. Paul’s message also resonates with independents who see Washington and its twin parties as corrupt. If the RNC ignores Paul’s delegates, they will shout his name at the convention to stop the show on live TV.
If the RNC wants to satisfy a substantial part of its base, attract independents, and get some of the youth vote, it must deal with Paul by giving him a prime-time slot at the RNC. Still, Paul is a lightning rod, and the Old Time Media will have a field day with his newsletters from 35 years ago. Paul would be wise to give his son Sen. Rand Paul the microphone. Sen. Paul carries almost no baggage, yet he has the respect of his father’s followers. If the liberty movement is to gain mainstream power within the GOP, Sen. Paul is the best bet.
Look for Ron Paul to fight for delegates through Super Tuesday. He was in office during Gingrich’s collapse, so he knows the Speaker’s personal failings well. Look for Paul to barter a Romney endorsement for an off-hour speech for himself and a prime-time slot for his son. Anything less by the RNC is dismissing a large and highly motivated segment of the GOP base. If the GOP is to avoid the fate of the Whigs, it needs the liberty movement and the Pauls.
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