Monday, July 25, 2011

Ron Paul Poised to Shake Up Republican Primaries

Gather Politics
By Bill Turner
Sunday July 24th 2011

Ron Paul and his supporters are poised to do what they couldn't do in the last primaries: get the Republican Party to treat him with respect. Some Republicans dismiss him as an unserious candidate. Others view him as a troublesome outsider who is derailing the party's main policies. But he owns political clout in this election cycle.

According to the latest Rasmussen Poll issued Friday, Paul trails President Obama by four percentage points. The same poll places Mitt Romney one percentage point ahead of the president. Romney supporters must use that as ammunition to dismiss all other Republican rivals and insist that their man is the best fit for Republicans.

Seasoned observers know that caution is the best course with expectations this early in a race. It's too early to determine outcomes, much less one many months away. And nobody knows when a scandal or misstep will occur. What is certain is that to expect Ron Paul to fade away is not only unrealistic, it is perilous, especially for the Romney camp.

Assuming that the primaries continue to line up as they are now, Michele Bachman or Tim Pawlenty figure to secure a win in Iowa. That's not only a story of how Iowa will vote itself into insignificance in this cycle by choosing a candidate not seen as widely viable, but it also allows for the vote in New Hampshire to be the real beginning of the primary season.

From that point of view, New Hampshire is an important win for Romney or Paul. Romney will count on his time as governor of Massachusetts and local familiarity to propel his effort. He will also likely have his organization in place much like he did in Iowa last year, and it will be well prepared with money and staff to execute an election day plan. Paul's organization, while less professional and more organic, is just as powerful and perhaps more persuasive.

Paul counts on his firm message of personal liberty, humble foreign policy and fiscal conservatism to bring out his voters. Like Rick Perry, Romney has to overcome his checkered conservative credentials, including a healthcare plan he forwarded which many view as the precursor to Obamacare. Romney has a steep hill to climb to get Republicans to trust him.
Once the campaign heads to the South, Romney will face Republicans who are skeptical of his conservative leanings, and a large group of social conservatives who will hold his Mormon beliefs against him, fair or not. None of this factors in that other more traditional conservatives are popular in the region. Sarah Palin or Herman Cain could tilt elections, but these candidates will not be pulling votes from the Ron Paul libertarian base.

Paul's message is clear. He has the funds to mount a serious campaign. He has enough followers to prevent the party from dismissing him as a candidate. The only thing that remains to be seen is if "old guard" Republicans can leave the tent flap open long enough for a horde of new libertarian members.

One of the leaders of the "old guard" punditry, Hugh Hewitt, is fond of saying that Paul has no chance of winning. Will these new numbers alter his thinking, or will he disregard them entirely and continue with his delusions of an old party? Time will tell, but the time of dismissing Ron Paul with no electoral ramifications to the party is over. It couldn't have come soon enough.

Do you support letting all the candidates in the Republican primary take part in the debates?

1 comment:

  1. Ron Paul will win. He has to. America's future depends on it.