Ron Paul takes game to next level, emerges as serious contender for GOP nomination
“Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down, you could stand me up at the Gates of Hell but I won’t back down…”– Tom Petty
After finishing a solid second in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, Texas Rep. Ron Paul made a short but important speech that sets the tone for the rest of his campaign, both in music and in words.
Taking the stage to greet supporters in Manchester Tuesday night with Tom Petty’s 1989 rock-and-roll anthem “I Won’t Back Down” playing in the auditorium, Paul left no doubt that he’s going to be pressing on in his quest for the 2012 Republican nomination and the right to represent the Grand Old Party in its effort to unseat incumbent President Barack Obama this November.
Interrupted frequently by supporters cheering and chanting things like “President Paul!” and “Ron Paul Revolution, Bring Us Back Our Constitution!,” Paul asserted that the Liberty movement he’s helped awaken is a danger to the status quo and a “danger to the Federal Reserve system.” He added that the Federal Reserve was established “to take care of the powerful interests, the military industrial complex, the banking system and deficit financing.” Paul went on to attack those who benefit financially from the wars, drawing a clear distinction between having a strong defense and “war profiteering.”
The rousing response of the crowd left no doubt that Paul will remain a contender for the Republican nomination all the way up to the party’s August convention in Tampa.
Paul’s message of personal liberty, sound money and ending foreign wars is something the Republican establishment and Neoconservative wing of the GOP has been at odds with since his 2008 presidential campaign, and Paul’s growing success in 2012 is not exactly welcome by Republican insiders like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and the entrenched “1 percent” interests they represent. With Paul’s numbers already rising in South Carolina, the next primary state, he could well be on the verge of yet another significant quantum leap in support. If Paul finishes ahead of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in South Carolina, Santorum’s campaign could be all but over. Paul could knock out another challenger with a third-place finish, and given the polling trends since New Hampshire, that is a distinct possibility.
Paul campaign expects to win caucuses in February
Wisely, Paul is bypassing heavy campaigning in Florida’s winner-take-all primary to focus on the Feb. 4 Nevada caucuses. If results from South Carolina and Florida lead to Santorum, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropping out of the race – a plausible scenario – then it could be a three-man contest in Nevada.
After Nevada, several states west of the Mississippi River hold caucuses before the so-called “Super Tuesday” contests on March 6. Paul’s national campaign manager Jesse Benton was quoted recently in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as saying Paul would win some of those caucuses.
If so, look for more Republicans to begin moving toward Paul both on ideological grounds and because they will begin to see him as the GOP’s best chance for unseating Obama.
Paul beginning to focus on electability
In his New Hampshire address, Paul signaled that ensuring Social Security recipients continue receiving benefits would take precedence over continued military ventures overseas as his administration enacted major spending cuts.
Although barely mentioned in the mainstream media, Paul’s favorable words for Social Security — the most popular and effective government program in the nation’s history — indicate that he is moving toward a kind of libertarian pragmatism coupled with an innate sense of compassion for and fairness toward retired and nearly retired workers. In short, Paul is beginning to hone his message toward one of electability – a strategy that will pay dividends in delegates as the nomination process moves forward. While Romney, Gingrich and Santorum pick at each other over trivialities and past pandering, Paul is already sending reassuring messages about how he will govern. Not only is Paul acting like the GOP frontrunner, he’s acting like a man who knows he’s going to be elected president.
In singling out Social Security, Paul sends an important message to Baby Boomers who, while supportive of Paul on such issues as legalizing medical marijuana, auditing the Federal Reserve and bringing American troops home from Afghanistan, have expressed concern that his small-government philosophy could deprive them of the retirement income they worked hard for and expect to be waiting for them upon leaving the work force. Look for him to repeat that theme as he rises in the polls and more people begin to see him as a viable alternative to Romney and the rest.
Paul will continue to shape GOP debate
As the campaign goes forward, look for Paul to pepper his familiar speeches on liberty, freedom and sound money with references to specific issues that have a lot of popular support but that the other GOP candidates won’t touch: medical marijuaan, for example. In addition, Paul’s quick defense of Romney’s role at Bain Capital in the 1980s has ensured that any criticisms he might level at Romney on other economic issues will be seen as criticisms with merit, not merely political opportunism.
The Republican Party has been a wounded “brand” since at least 2006, when Democrats swept to congressional control and sent President George W. Bush a message that we as a nation were tired of costly wars and infringements on personal freedom. Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, did not understand that, and he lost badly to Obama, who seemed to “get it” at the time but forgot it later. Tea Party enthusiasm for the 2010 midterms, coupled with many Democrats’ disappointment in Obama, made for big GOP gains that year. Today’s Republicans are fooling themselves, however, if they think voters are re-embracing the party of George W. Bush because they want more of what Bush gave us.
Only Paul, with his genuine convictions, authentic charisma and prescient courage, is capable of leading the GOP to victory this November. The reasons Romney or Gingrich cannot win should be obvious to anyone with the ability to objectively assess the political landscape. To summarize, Romney and Gingrich cannot beat Obama because they are both functionaries for the very system that is scamming and swindling the so-called “99 percent.”
Obama is a functionary as well, at least to some degree, but Paul is not. Paul is not beholden to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or the richest of the Republican rich for funding his campaign or to Timothy Geithner for shaping U.S. monetary policy. Paul is a populist in the truest sense of the term, and as the race goes on, he’s going to work in so many populist themes that Romney, Gingrich and whoever else might be left in the race will have to chime in or else face being dismissed as dodgy, deceitful and duplicitous.
“I think the intellectual revolution that’s going on now to restore liberty in this country is well on its way,” Paul told supporters Tuesday night, “and there’s no way they’re going to stop the momentum that we have started.”
Reluctantly, Republican Party movers and shakers are waking up to that fact, but the full weight of Paul’s words may not dawn on them until he’s addressing the GOP convention in Tampa – either as the nominee or someone whose full and vocal support the nominee needs in order to have a chance at beating Obama in November.[CIM Comment]
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