TAMPA, Fl., April 2, 2012 —The Republican Party has energized its base around the idea that Barack Obama must be defeated to save America from “socialism.” They won a majority in the House in 2010 by focusing on Obamacare. They claim that this election is a turning point. Obama must be defeated or America will be “fundamentally changed.”
There is only one problem. All of the candidates they are running will lose to Obama, with the exception of Ron Paul.
In order to win the general election, the Republicans need independents and Democrats. They also need a media narrative that shows a clear contrast between their candidate and Obama. They get all of this with Paul and none of it with Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich.
During the 2010 elections, Republicans pulled off a rhetorical coup. They successfully labeled Obamacare as “socialism” while at the same time mobilizing millions of senior citizens against the program because it would hurt Medicare. Hats off to their spin doctors. It won’t be that easy this year. If they want to attack Obama on Obamacare, they can’t run a candidate who signed the same program into law in Massachusetts (Romney), who supported its individual mandate for twenty years (Gingrich), or who voted for the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Santorum).
Santorum hasn’t endorsed the individual mandate, but Obama can argue that he’s all for government healthcare and “spreading the wealth around” because of Medicare Part D. The Republican base might swallow Santorum’s rebuttals, but for the rest Obamacare gets neutralized.
In contrast, Ron Paul can hammer Obama from both directions. He can argue the traditional conservative position that Medicare shouldn’t exist at all, but that he has the only plan that won’t cut off current beneficiaries. He can offer something new by allowing young people to opt out of Medicare and finish with the rejoinder “as long as we don’t start new government programs, as you have done, President Obama.” Ron Paul wins that debate by knockout. The other candidates lose.
Republicans have a short memory. John McCain lost to Obama in 2008 because he was perceived as another George W. Bush. Bush was reviled by voters for nation-building in the Middle East, for spying on Americans, and for being too cozy with Wall Street. Obama campaigned against all of that, but once in office he’s been Bush III.
Mitt Romney said that he would have signed the last NDAA bill, empowering the president to arrest American citizens and hold them indefinitely without due process. Santorum is on the record supporting the new power Obama has assumed to assassinate American citizens. Newt Gingrich says not only that the Patriot Act has to be strengthened, but that Americans must accept it for the rest of their lives. None of these candidates can attack Obama on civil liberties.
Ron Paul can. Voters can watch videos of Paul’s resistance to the Patriot Act before it was passed and review Paul’s numerous speeches, op-eds, and congressional votes against Bush’s policies. Only Ron Paul wants to repeal the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, and the controversial provisions of the NDAA. He can excoriate Obama as Bush III and convince independents and Democrats to vote for him.
Only Paul can attack Obama for filling up his cabinet with Wall Street insiders. Obviously, that argument won’t fly with Mitt Romney. Santorum and Gingrich have both been lobbyists out of public office. Obama will point that out. Paul has a long history of opposing corporatism and again adds something new, his oppositions to the Federal Reserve. Paul can point to the trillions in bailouts of foreign banks by the Fed and hammer Obama for not doing anything about it.
After running as a peace candidate and collecting a Nobel Prize, Obama has started new wars and expanded existing ones. He has deployed troops in Australia and may yet get more involved in Syria. Romney, Santorum and Gingrich cannot attack Obama on this. They have all eliminated that possibility with their unrelenting hawkishness during their campaigns.
Paul’s foreign policy is not only what got Obama elected in 2008; it is what got George W. Bush elected in 2000. Bush ran on a “humble foreign policy” and won. When he broke that promise, his party was routed in 2006 and 2008. Obama won on an anti-war platform in 2008. He broke that promise and his party lost big in 2010. Only Ron Paul can capitalize on this in 2012. He’s the only one proposing less war. He’s the only one that can cite a consistent anti-war record.
If nothing else, Republicans should be able to attack Obama on spending, but Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich can’t win this fight either. None of them propose any spending cuts. Their supposed “cuts” merely reduce proposed increases in federal spending in future years. Obama can argue that those proposals amount to endorsement of his spending now and he’d be correct.
Ron Paul already has already released his first year budget and it cuts $1 trillion. Combined with Obama’s proposed 2013 deficit, Paul can argue that electing Obama will cost Americans over $2 trillion dollars in one year. Now, that is a contrast that makes good headlines and will play with voters.
If defeating Obama is truly important, Republicans have to offer someone different. Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum propose only to tweak Obama’s policies. Voters don’t want to hear that. They want to hear about fundamental change, remember? Only Ron Paul can pull it off in 2012.
It isn’t too late. New York, California, Texas and other states still haven’t held their primaries. If the Republican Party could catapult Gingrich and Santorum into the lead when their campaigns had no money and no ground game, they could do the same for Paul now. Wins in any of the big states can still result in a brokered convention which Paul can win. The Republican Party must learn from its mistakes during the Bush years or they will be defeated again. Only Ron Paul can beat Obama in 2012.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
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