GATHER POLITICS | John Kurtz | February 27, 2012
Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich are all still competing for the nomination. Mitt Romney, of course, has the most delegates so far but has yet to convince conservatives that he is their man. Newt Gingrich has risen and fallen after his victory in South Carolina and now looks like he has lost most of his support to Rick Santorum. The former Senator from Pennsylvania has surged recently but has a long way to go to fund a national campaign capable of competing with Mitt Romney in every state. Then there is Congressman Paul, who according to a new article in The Guardian, has largely gone about his business quietly yet might pose the greatest threat to his three competitors rising the needed 1,144 delegates to secure the nomination.
It is no secret that Paul couldn't care less about sitting a the top of the political polls. After all, he has frequently criticized other conservative candidates like Perry, Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum who have been the "flavor of the month" by rising to the top only to plummet once the voters examine them more closely. For Rick Perry, it was his poor debate performances coupled with his poor history of immigration reform and government intervention into healthcare with the HPV vaccine. For Newt Gingrich, it was his employment by Freddie Mac when the GSE was contributing to the housing collapse. Now, both Romney and Paul have criticized Rick Santorum's claims of conservatism after voting for No Child Left Behind, voting to raise the debt ceiling five times, and "taking one for the team" by supporting the Republican ideas simply for the sake of being partisan. It seems that Paul's strategy relative to his competition is to show the consistency of his voting record and his debate performances while allowing the other candidates to shoot themselves in the foot when their actions do not match their words. This became evident when Dr. Paul described himself as "consistent" in the CNN debate in Mesa last week.
In fact, the Congressman from Texas prefers to get the most bang for his buck by maximizing his delegate count instead of worrying about the popular vote totals. This strategy is being put into place mainly in the caucus states, where volunteers are chosen at the county level to represent a candidate at the state convention who are then chosen to represent their candidate in Tampa. However, the volunteers at the county level do not have to declare their support until they reach the state convention. Essentially, Paul is attempting to fill all the spots at the county level by having his supporters volunteer more than supporters of other candidates, thus only Paul supporters go to the state convention and only Paul supporters go to Tampa. To be sure, other candidates will still receive delegates a the county level, but Paul would like to have more than the others.
While this strategy may sound difficult on the surface, no candidate may be better suited for it than Ron Paul. He easily has the most dedicated and motivated followers of any of the candidates remaining, and also has raised more money than the others except for Mitt Romney. To be successful, Paul will need to have a tightly organized ground campaign full of dedicated volunteers as well as the ability to raise funds very quickly. Luckily for him, he seems to have all of those. So far, the strategy seems to be working as Paul won all of the county delegates in several Colorado counties where he actually lost the popular vote.
Paul will also need his competitors to stay in the race as long as possible. If one of more of them were to withdraw, more supporters would likely go to either Romney or Santorum—the two candidates at the top of the polls at the moment—and hurt Paul's chances at winning the slots at the county level. As long as the neoconservative vote is divided among Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich, Paul's 12 percent can do the job of delegate hunting.
Paul likely can not amass the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination with this strategy, but if all four candidates make it to Tampa, the brokered convention will favor those with the most delegates. Even if Paul doesn't become the nominee, the nominee will need to claim Paul's supporters, thus his political views and positions are more likely to become mainstream in the campaign against Obama. It also puts him in a position to be a part of the nominee's cabinet, whether it be as a Vice President or any other role. Finally, Paul also is retiring from Congress this year and will need to pass the torch on to his son, Rand, the Senator from Kentucky. By promoting the Libertarian cause in the Presidential campaign, Rand will begin in a better position and further advance the ideas of his father's followers.