Who’ll be the right Paul for President in 2012?
Donald Trump was wrong when he said Ron Paul “has just zero chance of getting elected.” When the buzz about Trump’s presidential campaign dies down, it’s quite possible that Ron Paul — if he runs in 2012 — would outperform Trump in the long run.
While he does not have a good chance of getting elected, it’s better than zero. The Texas Congressman gained a higher delegate count than heavyweights like Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson in the 2008 Republican primary. He placed second in Idaho, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. As for experience in “getting elected,” Paul has won 12 terms to the House of Representatives, three of those times as a non-incumbent.
Unless lightning strikes, Paul will not be the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, despite his rabidly enthusiastic following, adept fundraising skills and name recognition from his 2008 campaign. But he has won the unscientific Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll two consecutive years, beating out Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.
He has thus far been unclear as to whether he would make another run for the office he sought first as the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988, then as the only anti-Iraq war candidate in the GOP primary 20 years later. Even family members are apparently uncertain.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky doesn’t know what his father’s intentions are, only that “he sure seems to be going to New Hampshire and Iowa a lot. So we’ll see what that indicates.” Then again, Rand Paul has visited Iowa and South Carolina. What does that indicate?
“I’ve told people basically the only thing I’ve decided is that I would not run against my dad. I figure that since he is my landlord, that’s the least I can do,” joked the senator.
But on a more serious note, the younger Paul added, “I do want to be part of the process. If my dad shouldn’t run, I’ve told people that I will entertain the thought of running, because I think the tea party needs to have a voice at the table.”
“No matter who’s running, I do want to participate in some way or fashion, in determining who the nominee is,” Rand Paul continued. “If that means running personally or actually trying to help a candidate who I think can really articulate our message, I think that hasn’t been decided yet.”
At 75, it is logical to believe Ron Paul might be ready to pass the torch. The question is whether Rand Paul, in the first year of his first term as a U.S. senator is ready. The younger Paul did manage to deliver much of his father’s message in a more pragmatic way and won a statewide office which his father never has.
Regardless of which Paul runs for president, voters will decide if either or neither is the right man for the job. But for now, Rand may be the right Paul for the 2012 campaign.
Although his 2010 campaign was not gaffe free, the younger Paul is a savvy candidate. In the GOP primary, Paul trounced Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the handpicked candidate of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who practically built the modern Republican Party in the Bluegrass state. In November, Paul won a decisive victory over Kentucky’s Attorney General Jack Conway, despite an ugly smear campaign by Democrats.
On April 2, Rand Paul was the keynote speaker at the “Night of the Rising Stars” event in Des Moines, Iowa, sponsored by the Iowa Republican Party.
“It’s not enough just to be a Republican,” Sen. Paul told the Iowa crowd. “It’s not enough just for the Republican party to exist. Political parties are empty vessels unless we imbue them with values. We have to stand for something, and we have to mean it.”
These are the kind of words that get the conservative base fired up, particularly after House Speaker John Boehner struck a deal with the Democrats to avert a government shutdown that many conservatives and tea partiers don’t find very satisfactory.
Earlier this year, Rand Paul proposed an unrealistic budget proposal of $500 billion in cuts that would among other things eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Education. Good policy, but not something that could ever pass in Washington. That’s not the point. The point was to propose a budget as it should be given the fiscal crisis.
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