Why Ron Paul Won't Make Third Party Run - By Thomas J. Basile
Just to be clear, how many folks out there think Ron Paul is going to be the Republican nominee? 1…2…3… Ok now, how many think he’s going to be the next President of the United States? 1…2… Keep in mind, Ron Paul didn’t even raise his hand to either of those questions. He’s smarter than that. So why run yet again? The answer is simple and it’s about legacy building. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign isn’t about Ron Paul. It’s about his son Rand Paul, the freshman US Senator from Kentucky.
I may not agree with Ron Paul’s approach to policy in many areas, but I’ve watched over the last five years as this way-out-of-the-mainstream libertarian gadfly congressman has become a national phenomenon. Paul’s efforts are a testament to the power of cultivating and mobilizing people. Amid the sound and fury of the air wars of presidential campaigns, Ron Paul has been building a loyal base of support for years. He’s communicated with them regularly and feeds them the red meat they crave in debates and appearances. He raises millions of dollars from grassroots donors giving small amounts.
Anyone who has ever seen the Ron Paul-ites in action on the ground during a primary election could learn a thing or two about how grassroots political infrastructure works – even for a candidate that few, including those within his own movement, believe can have a significant national policy or political impact. Paul has built an army but the aging general, now in his mid seventies, is preparing to turn over the reins of power.
The Ron Paul 2012 effort isn’t about winning anything or influencing the debate. It’s about keeping the army in fighting shape for the next generation. After Paul bows out of this year’s race he will be able to transfer that fundraising base and those ground troops to Rand in time for 2016.
That’s why he won’t run on a third party line. Ron Paul knows that a serious third party effort would kill any chance of a GOP victory in 2012. That will cause lasting resentment among Republicans and independent voters like. Paul doesn’t want to be a spoiler and he doesn’t want his son to bear the brunt of the backlash.
For his part, Rand is already trying to make sure the “Paul” brand name has a future. In recent days he’s stated that he believes any third-party run by his father would be a bad idea. He’s also sought to clarify his father’s positions on Israel and other issues. Paul is taking up the mantle now to help ensure he can leverage his father’s infrastructure in the future.
Ron Paul’s career as a candidate and elected official are coming to an end. His only goal is today is the make his son more relevant tomorrow. A laudable goal for the Paul family name, but in the meantime it’s a political distraction in a year when winning the White House should be every Republicans’ focus.
Thomas J. Basile is a Republican commentator, professor and former Executive Director of the New York State Republican Party. Learn more about him at www.TJBasile.com.