On Monday morning March 12, Dr. Ron Paul, member of the House of Representatives from Texas, and no stranger to readers of this website, announced on C-SPAN that he will seek the Republican nomination for President. Now that he has moved from an "exploratory" candidacy to being a bona fide candidate, what are Rep. Paul's chances of winning the GOP nomination?
I have known Ron for about 25 years. The last time I saw him was in mid-2004 when he spoke at a fundraiser for Rep. Scott Garrett in New Jersey. Scott was elected to Congress in 2002 and is a member of Ron's Liberty Study Committee. During the question and answer period I stated that a Paul-Garrett ticket in 2008 would energize conservative Republicans and libertarians. Ron smiled and said, if I remember correctly, that a presidential run would be very unlikely. Well, here we are in 2007, and a Ron Paul presidential candidacy is a reality.
Ron and I first met at a 1982 monetary conference in Washington, DC. Two years later he invited me with other newsletter writers to tour the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury and the Securities and Exchange Commission. In a Paul presidency, the downsizing of government would begin in earnest, two of the three institutions we toured nearly a quarter of century ago would be abolished, and the U.S. Treasury would probably be responsible for maintaining the integrity of a gold-backed dollar. In short, in a Paul presidency, Washington, DC would be less populated, the budget would shrink substantially, taxes would decline markedly, the dollar would be stronger and no American troops would be policing the world.
Soon after Ron announced his candidacy on C-SPAN, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel held a new conference in his home state of Nebraska to inform the press that he will not be a candidate for president at this time. In another development over the weekend, Fred Thompson, former U.S. senator from Tennessee and television actor, announced that he may seek the GOP nomination for president. On Monday evening I had the opportunity to view some of the news programs, and the political segments were about the possible candidacies of both Hagel and Thompson, while Ron Paul's candidacy was ignored. Moreover, on Fox News Morton Kondracke commented on Senator Hagel's announcement and said there is no anti-war candidate in the GOP field.
Clearly, the establishment media's virtually blackout of Ron Paul's candidacy is a magnificent case study in: media incompetence? bias? laziness? All of the above?
No matter how the media treat Ron in the months ahead, by this time next year both the Republican and Democrat presidential nominees should be all but selected, because so many primaries will be held next February and March. Thus, whoever raises substantial funds soon and has a message that resonates with voters for the next 12 months will be the overwhelming favorites to win their respective party's nomination.
As of now, Dr. Paul has much in common with another (physician) presidential candidate, Howard Dean, who used the Internet so effectively in 2004 that the Democratic establishment sandbagged his campaign, because the Democrat bosses did not want to have, in their view, another McGovern (anti-war) candidacy. Ironically, Dean is one of the country's leading hawks, when it comes to Iran.
Currently, the Internet is abuzz about Ron Paul. As the year unfolds, if more and more young Republicans people gravitate toward the Paul campaign just as young Democrats did for Dean in 2004, the GOP establishment will be apoplectic.
For Ron to become one of the "top tier" GOP candidates he has to have one quality that he does not have now — a media-anointed celebrity status. Currently, the top tier candidates are "celebrities" — Rudy, McCain, Romney, and Newt (even though he has not announced his candidacy). Ron can become a top tier candidate and a serious contender for the nomination if he can raise more funds than his own advisors, I suspect, think is possible by December 31, 2007.
According to many pundits, each of the leading candidates in both parties could raise as much as $100 million by the time the primaries are over. So, for the media to characterize anyone a top tier candidate throughout the year, he or she should be on track to raise at least $50 million or more. Could any of the presidential candidates that are currently in the back of the pack raise anywhere near that daunting amount?
If $50 million is the minimum that a candidate will have to raise to be taken seriously by the media, then every lesser-known candidate needs 50,000 individuals to make an average contribution of $1,000 to give him a $50 million war chest. (The maximum individual contribution is $2,300 per primary and general election.)
Ron's political base is fiscal conservatives, anti-tax citizens, anti-war Republicans, Democrats and Independents, constitutionalists, hard-money advocates, small business owners, civil libertarians, anti-universal healthcare physicians, pro-lifers, parents who home school, and anyone else who considers himself a real patriot. In other words, if Ron's substantial base provides him with volunteers, contributions and votes, he would be a very competitive candidate.
In the final analysis, about 50,000 to 100.000 Americans could determine the next presidential nominees of both parties. In the GOP presidential primary, if Ron Paul, Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson, or any other lesser known candidate excites GOP voters for the next 12 months, then Rudy, McCain and Romney will prove that in a marathon it is not who leads the pack that counts but who is the turtle in the race.
March 14, 2007