Ron Paul told NPR last Sunday that he’s considering another presidential run. That might seem like the logical extension of his recent ascent to subcommittee chairmanship in the House and informal recognition as “grandfather” of the Tea Party movement that swept Congress last November. But the GOP electorate is still as inhospitable to libertarians as it ever was, and in another White House bid, he’d stand no chance.
It looks like Paul has some momentum. Catching other GOP contenders off-guard with his unexpected fundraising prowess — he pulled in $6 million once in just 24 hours — the libertarian Texas congressman rocked ‘08’s Republican presidential debates before running out of steam in the primaries. But his first-place straw poll win at last February’s Conservative Political Action Conference and statistical tie in Rasmussen’s head-to-head 2012 matchup against President Obama last April have some pundits and “Paulnuts” alike predicting another Ron Paul rEVOLution.
On the surface, Paul seems like the best candidate to sell the platform on which the GOP ran in the midterms. He’s written End the Fed, on waste and mishandling of power at the Federal Reserve, and introduced House bills to audit and even to abolish the Fed. He’s also proposed a bill to repeal Obamacare’s personal insurance mandate. But his libertarian streak disqualifies him among a lot of social conservatives. During the ’08 debates, for instance, he blamed America’s interventionist foreign policy in part for 9/11. When some other Republicans blasted last month’s leaked State Department cables as treason, he defended WikiLeaks as an outlet for government transparency. And when most House Republicans voted earlier this month to keep Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in place, he voted with Democrats to repeal it.
As a result, there’s about as much clamor out there for another Paul presidential run as there is for Little Fockers. Paul ran for president as the Libertarian candidate in 1988 but lost. And last time he ran, he crashed and burned again, despite the multi-million-dollar “money bombs” that his campaign was famous for. He came in fifth place in the Iowa Caucus, winning just 10 percent of the vote. He came in fifth again in the New Hampshire primary, winning just eight percent of the vote. And he dropped to just 4 percent in South Carolina. I beat him in the next 15 states and I wasn’t even on the ballot. That’s how bad it was.
Now some pundits claim that because of the changing political climate — the purported shift from social to fiscal priorities among GOP voters, for instance — Paul has another shot at the presidency, or at least at the GOP nod. The Hill’s campaign blog wrote last summer that Paul might “wreak havoc” on Republicans in a 2012 run and New York magazine’s Intelligencer blog even speculated that he could take out Sarah Palin. But there’s no practical reason to believe that. The Republican electorate is still the Republican electorate. And Paul came in seventh place at just 4 percent in Clarus Research Group’s latest 2012 poll.
I like Paul. He stands for a lot of the stuff that Americans ought to: individual liberty and fiscal responsibility. And unlike a lot of his GOP House and Senate colleagues, he’s never bought into the welfare state as the answer to America’s problems. But he lost in ’88. He lost in ’08. He couldn’t win mayor of his own house on Foursquare. How could he be president?
Dorian Davis is a former MTV HITS star turned Libertarian writer. He’s been published in Business Week, NY Daily News, XY & more. He’s an NYU graduate and National Journalism Center alum. He teaches journalism at Marymount Manhattan College.