Ron Paul is not the Republican Howard Dean
Ron Paul truly is a fringe candidate, a guy whose writings (as Kevin Drum recently put it) have a "Unabomber-esque" quality to them. Perhaps that's a bit harsh, but it's certainly true that Paul endorses a number of positions that have very little mainstream support (returning to the gold standard, abolishing the Federal Reserve, getting rid of most federal agencies, etc.). Moreover, many of Paul's positions on key issues of the day are diametrically opposed to those held by most of the Republican base, which explains why Paul was overwhelmingly named the "Least Favorite Person on the Right" by this recent survey of right-wing bloggers.I think this is about right. The Republicans are concerned about a defection or apathy on the part of one fringe group, the Evangelicals, as they should be. This from The CarpetBagger Report:
There is zero chance that Ron Paul will win the Republican nomination or, after he loses, become a major leader in the Republican party. His constituency consists mainly of libertarian types who are either not Republicans or have not felt at home in the Republican party for quite some time.
And unlike Dean, I think it is pretty unlikely that Paul will endorse the eventual Republican nominee. In fact, I suspect Republican party officials are a little worried about Paul's plans for the general election. Though Paul has so far disclaimed any intention of running as a third party candidate, I think he would have little trouble securing the nomination of various third parties (like the Constitution Party) that will have a spot on the ballot in most states. If Paul can raise his profile enough to secure himself a place in general election debates (as Ross Perot did in 1992), he may well be tempted to accept a third party nomination.
Paul is much more like Ross Perot or Ralph Nader than Howard Dean. His support comes from people who are fed up with the two major parties and don't feel represented by either of them. Those who want to see a Republican in the White House come 2009 should be very careful how they treat Ron Paul and his supporters. He has the potential to become a very effective spoiler in the general election.
Perkins began by arguing that, for social conservatives, “there’s little distinction between” Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. While conceding that the two are “not identical,” Perkins added, “If they’re indistinguishable on so many issues that are vital to these voters, it’s hard to see why you should vote for one instead of the other.”This does not indicate a possible third party candidate but just as ominous for the Republicans is that the Evangelicals will simply stay home. As Greg Sargent points out if Rudy lost half the Evangelical votes Bush received in 2004 it would represent nine percent.
But what about the Ron Paul fringe? Just head over to the Libertarian site LewRockwell.com. Now these are people who have historically voted Republican. They have also been as vocal about George W. Bush's wars of choice and his shredding of the constitution as any on the left. They see Rudy as a George W. Bush who can complete a sentence. It's Ron Paul all of the time. They are a third party threat as the Constitution Party and the Libertarian Party are on the ballot in most States. So could Ron Paul become another Ross Perot or Ralph Nader?