TAMPA, April 7, 2012 – GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney continues to win primaries and Ron Paul still won’t go away.
Part of the reason is that the Paul campaign understands the primary process and knows a little history. Romney’s support is lukewarm, while Paul’s actual delegate total is dramatically understated.
As Robert Wenzel points out, Paul is a lot like Warren Harding. Harding went into the brokered 1920 convention with only 6% of the delegates, but emerged as the party’s nominee. Harding won the general election in a landslide and took a very non-interventionist approach to the Depression of 1921.
Free market economists cite Harding’s refusal to intervene in that crisis for the quick recovery that followed.
So, there is no reason not to take Ron Paul at his word when he says that he is still in the contest to win the nomination. Still, speculation persists that he has made a deal with Romney for an eventual endorsement.
In return, Paul would get a speaking slot at the convention, consideration for his son Rand, or concessions in the party platform.
Both Paul and Romney have repeatedly denied this. Paul acknowledges that he is open to talk to the other candidates and that Romney, a personal friend, is easier to talk to. However, anyone who believes Ron Paul will simply endorse the nominee in exchange for political favors doesn’t understand Ron Paul or his Revolution.
Whether you agree with him or not, there is one thing that you must grant to Ron Paul. He has refused to compromise his political principles, regardless of the political consequences. He endorsed Ronald Reagan when Reagan was a “fringe candidate” back in 1976. However, after federal spending doubled and the national debt exploded during Reagan’s presidency, Paul wrote a letter blasting the by that time hugely popular Reagan and announcing his withdrawal from the Republican Party.
That didn’t help his political career. The letter is used against him to this day.
Throughout the past decade, Paul refused to tow the party line and cheer on the “ownership society” promoted by George W. Bush. Paulwarned of the impending housing disaster as far back as 2001 while his colleagues parroted the party line and reaped the political benefits.
When his predictions came true, Paul suddenly found himself widely respected by the mainstream for his economic ideas. It is not unreasonable to argue that Paul might be leading the primary race if he had just compromised on his non-interventionist foreign policy. He wouldn’t. That’s just not how Ron Paul is built.
He has refused to rule out supporting the eventual nominee because he knows that they are not committed to any specific principles. If polls show that changing their positions helps them politically, they’ll do it in a minute, as they all have in the past. So, Paul says that he’ll wait and see. As usual, he’s just telling the truth, political consequences be damned.
What would it take for Ron Paul to endorse Mitt Romney? Romney would have to change his positions dramatically. If he repudiated preemptive war and committed to securing a formal declaration of war from the Congress before ordering military action, Paul might endorse him. Maybe.
That would still leave huge disagreements on domestic policy. Romney might have to commit to support an audit of the Federal Reserve. He may even have to commit to actually cutting federal spending, instead of merely increasing it less than Obama as he currently proposes.
In other words, Romney would have to completely contradict everything he’s said so far during this election season. That’s why Paul says it’s unlikely that a deal could be reached. It’s not impossible because Romney has already changed his positions on a whole range of issues, from abortion to bailouts. However, he’s had years to flip-flop in the past. He’d have to do it in a matter of days or weeks for a chance at Paul’s endorsement during this election.
Don’t forget that it’s not just Ron Paul that refuses to compromise. His supporters won’t either, even if Paul asks them to. They care little for the Republican Party other than as a vehicle for their ideas. Most of them wouldn’t compromise for the Republican nominee just because Ron Paul endorsed him. Romney would risk granting Paul’s requests but not getting the votes in return.