WASHINGTON, January 29, 2012—During this primary season, many political pundits have assumed that Ron Paul is not actively trying to win the Presidency. To them, he is simply a message candidate who has some interesting ideas but no path to the nomination. Dr. Paul is seen as too much of a fringe candidate by the mainstream media and therefore considered unelectable. The facts, however, say otherwise. This time around, the Ron Paul campaign is more organized, has better advisors, and is actually campaigning to win.
Along with establishment candidate Mitt Romney, Ron Paul is the only candidate who was able to get on the ballot in all fifty states. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum will not get enough delegates from the states they have qualified for to receive the Republican nomination. Rick Santorum still has very poor name recognition, and Newt Gingrich is one of the most polarizing political figures of our generation , and he could not even get on the ballot in his home state. In other words, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are the only electable candidates to choose from.
One of the biggest reasons to believe that Congressman Paul intends to win is his age. Running a national campaign is the most stressful, physically draining, and emotionally taxing activity that a politician can undertake, and 76 year old Ron Paul would not be doing it unless he thought there were a chance he could win. With all the work that the Paul campaign put into Iowa and New Hampshire, it would be foolish to think that there wasn’t any campaign strategy to pick up delegates.
The clearest indicator to Dr. Paul’s supporters that his intent is to win is the number of attack ads that the campaign has run against his opponents. Until very recently, Paul has been extremely hesitant to attack his opponents. What he enjoys most is presenting his ideas in a clear precise fashion. During this election cycle, he has been much more willing to attack his opponents about their records, and also willing to brag about his own credentials, a topic that he was very humble about back in 2008.
Some say that Congressman Paul is only trying to deliver his message to the country on a national platform and actually has no interest in being elected. There might have been a case for that argument four years ago, but not today. Paul’s campaign strategy is not just to stay in the race until the very end, but to accumulate delegates. If Paul were simply trying to deliver a message, he would not have skipped campaigning in Florida in order to campaign in states like Minnesota, Nevada and Maine. He knows that he will not be competitive in the sunshine state. Because the delegates are winner-take-all, there is no point in wasting money, time, and resources in Florida.
There has been a general consensus in the media that Paul has a “ceiling” of support and cannot get past a certain point. The argument goes that because he knows this, he cannot possibly be trying to win a national election. Once again, this argument might have been true in 2008, but not today. Anyone who has paid attention to the election over the past eight months would see that the ceiling for Ron Paul has gotten higher over time. When he first announced that he was forming an exploratory campaign, pundits said that he would get his 5% of the vote and then drop out. Soon it was 10%, but that was all he would ever get. Within months, the “ceiling” was at 20% and Ron Paul had a shot at winning the Iowa Caucus. At that point Chris Wallace made the comment that Iowa would no longer matter if Ron Paul pulled out a victory there. Ron Paul and his campaign have realized that the “ceiling” that the media talks about does not exist and has simply been created to discourage potential supporters.
There is no question that Dr. Paul’s path to the nomination will be uphill, but the uninspiring Mitt Romney, the unstable Newt Gingrich, and the obscure Rick Santorum make anything possible. He will have many bumps in the road, but he is the only candidate in the race who will cut anything from the budget, who has been consistent, and who is a true conservative. Santorum, Gingrich, and Romney should take notice: Ron Paul isn’t going anywhere.
Join columnists Conor Murphy and Rich Stowell as they debate the question: Is Ron Paul a viable candidate?
Conor Murphy is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in political science. As a former radio talk show host on WVCW, Conor hosted two popular shows, Murphy’s Law and Son of the Revolution. You can read more of his columns in The Political Pro-Con at The Washington Times Communities.
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