EASTON, Md., December 17, 2011 — While everyone was seeing Newt as the Gingrich who stole Romney’s Christmas, Santa was making his list and checking it twice. And he decided on a lump of coal for the two serial flip-floppers, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich: Congressman Ron Paul.
In fact, Santa went so far as to wrap the coal in a note that read: Ignore Ron Paul At Your Peril.
If you have watched the debates over the past few months, you had only to watch the body language of most of the candidates to see how dismissive they have been of the slight, senior citizen on stage with them. His views were too radical. His comments too blunt. His demeanor too much the country doctor.
Talk about underestimating your opponent. Suddenly the candidates are looking at Congressman Paul with new respect … and fear. His poll numbers in Iowa are nothing to sneeze at, much less ignore: Gingrich barely leads Paul at 22% to 21%, with Mitt Romney at 16%, Michele Bachmann at 11%, Rick Perry at 9%, Rick Santorum at 8%, Jon Huntsman at 5%, and Gary Johnson at 1%. (Public Policy Polling)
And if Paul takes the Iowa caucuses on January 3 and then slingshots into New Hampshire on January 10, he could do serious damage, particularly to Newt.
Real Clear Politics, as of December 17, shows Paul a strong third at 16%, behind Romney and Gingrich, but Republican insiders believe he is even stronger than that.
And if Paul comes out of Iowa as number 1 or 2, he could pull an upset even in New Hampshire.
So watch your backsides, Mitt and Newt. The 76-year-old Libertarian you dismissed as unelectable is nipping at your heels and other parts. Here are five more reasons that visions of sugar plums won’t be dancing in Mitt or Newt’s heads this Christmas Eve:
1. The Money Bomb: This past Friday, Congressman Paul, launched his Tea Party Money Bomb to raise $4 million to fund his campaign operations in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. As of Saturday morning, December 17, he had raised more than $3,250,000 in cash.
2. Paul has an amazing ground game in Iowa that is paying off in both money and volunteers. When he lost last time around, he kept his grassroots watered and nourished. Now he has energized students who are going door to door for him, developed an Internet-based phone-bank system so that people can call Iowans from anywhere in the country, and made sure that five of the seventeen members of Iowa’s Republican Central Committee are ardent Paul supporters, an impressive influence on Iowa politics.
3. Paul’s campaign ads are merciless in calling out both Romney and Gingrich. Never one to mince words, Paul calls Mitt and Newt Flip and Flop, even putting their faces on a pair of flip-flops. But he has fired his most deadly salvos at Newt, accusing him of hypocrisy and laying out the case as simple as one, two, three, from accepting $1.6 million from federal mortgage giant Freddie Mac to siding with former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Americans must address climate change, something that Newt now disavows.
4. This time around, unlike four years ago, Paul’s Libertarian and populist message resounds with a wide variety of voters, who are anxious about the economy and furious with Wall Street bankers and Washington insiders who have allowed our economy to sputter into the Great Recession. The voters who respond to Paul’s message aren’t buying what Romney and Gingrich are peddling. They want something more, and they see Congressman Paul, despite his long years in the House, as the real outsider.
5. Paul could be positioning himself as a spoiler or worse. If he is the spoiler, then he will slow Newt or Mitt’s momentum, meaning Paul will still be in play in come Super Tuesday on March 6. He has the money, volunteers, and the grit for the long haul this time. Going into the convention on August 27 in Tampa, Florida, just one week before the Democratic National Convention, he is going to have a big influence on the platform and direction of the Republican Party. How he will use that influence to bend the Party to Libertarian values will be the big question.
Or will he do what every Republican dreads: run as a Third Party candidate? When asked by David Gregory on Meet the Press, “Are you ruling out a third party run at any point?”
Paul: I have, I have no plans to do that.
Gregory: Are you ruling it out?
Paul: I’m not going to rule anything out or any—anything in.
When asked at the last Iowa debate by Fox New’s Megyn Kelly whether he would support the Republican nominee, he sidestepped the question adroitly by saying, “I think really the question is, is what do we have to offer?” He never answered the question.
A Halloween nightmare could loom for the GOP as we head towards election night, November 6, 2012 if Ron Paul, who will not be running for Congress again, decides instead to run as a Third-Party candidate. He could easily siphon off 10 to 15% of the national vote, maybe even 20%, and the damage would be to the GOP.
So as we move deeper into winter and the first GOP primaries, Newt and Mitt are finding that Santa Claus is not old and forgetful, remembering only too well how the two boys acted up when they thought no one was looking and presenting them with Ron Paul, complete with ribbon and gift card.
Ho, Ho, Ho!
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