Rick Santorum made the decision to “suspend” his campaign on Tuesday, leaving Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich as the remaining contenders for the Republican Presidential nominee. Now what?
Romney has long been declared by the GOP establishment and mainstream media as the definite front-runner in the race. But for the sake of the 24-hour news cycle, nearly every other candidate has been afforded a moment to relish in the limelight as his “rival” — every candidate, it seems, except Paul.
With Santorum’s exit, the “Paulbots,” “Paulites” or whatever the MSM have branded Paul’s supporters this week have become energized, and some pundits believe they have good reason. Throughout the primary season, Paul and his supporters have frequently decried the lack of media attention given to the candidate despite his campaign’s ability to organize and energize supporters in ways the other contenders could only hope to emulate.
But now, some people are left wondering if the media will be forced to recognize Paul as a real alternative — even if he is trailing — to Romney as the race enters the final stretch and the candidates make a mad dash to the Republican National Convention in August.
The prospect seems unlikely. The New York Times declared on Monday — even before Santorum’s exit — that the primary has reached an endgame in an article entitled “A Living Autopsy of the Ron Paul Campaign.” Despite the article’s death-declaration of a title, its author could not help but note the obvious: Paul’s positions are popular to a large base of Americans.
Seemingly representing the best of both worlds in a political sense, the candidate’s fiscal ideology is the stuff of dreams for Republicans — specifically Tea Party types who believe Paul Ryan’s recent budget proposal to be lackluster in the “cuts” department. His wish for a smaller Federal government bridges gaps between libertarians, Republicans and independents. And though Paul’s foreign policy makes many hawkish conservatives queasy, it represents a silver lining to Democratic voters who supported Obama for similar peaceful proposals and were slapped in the face.
Paul is often called dangerous by the elite within the military-industrial complex, yet he receives more campaign donations from active-duty military personnel and veterans than any of the other candidates. Do these troops know something the general public — the average hawkish conservative — does not? Lost in translation to many Republican voters who prefer small government is the Paul axiom that big military is big government. In fact, about 27 cents of every 2011 Federal income tax dollar went to military spending, according to the National Priorities Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that analyzes the Federal budget.
Paul and Gingrich have both vowed to stay in the race until the convention, but an interesting caveat for fiscal conservatives considering a vote for Gingrich: The man, who if elected would be charged with repairing a national economy that is in extreme debt, is bouncing checks on the campaign trail. Some pundits have noted since the beginning of his campaign that Gingrich has used the primary mostly as a book tour.
Paul’s campaign still has money to burn and the dogged determination of a well-organized base of support, and many within his base believe — despite MSM reports — that Paul actually has enough delegates to pose a major threat to Romney. They base the assertions on the fact that many of the delegates remain unbound to any one candidate, and the delegate-count numbers are constantly fluctuating.
Even if the MSM are correct in asserting that Paul is no threat to Romney as the primary draws down, the candidate has energized a mass of people who seem to represent a serious threat to the political status quo. In a recent POLITICO article, “Ron Paul’s baby boom,” it is noted that Paul’s Presidential bid and the growing popularity of his message have encouraged a growing number of people who do not identify as wholly Republican or Democrat, but rather as supporters of liberty, to become politically involved. Even if Paul loses this battle, it looks as if he has set the stage to win the war.