With both Ron and Rand Paul expressing a desire to run for president in 2012, one could imagine there being some tension in the Paul household. Presidential runs are all about timing — where the window to run often slams shut unexpectedly. In fact, over the past 40 years, the U.S. has only had eight people hold the position. Ron is still flirting with a run, while Rand has said the only decision he has made is that he won’t run against his father. Which got me to thinking — if they came to me for advice on which Paul should run, who would I choose?
Admittedly I’m a dreamer, but this isn’t such a far-fetched thought experiment. I’m no stranger to the 2008 Ron Paul campaign. In months of researching the birth of the Tea Party — a movement I’ve argued Ron Paul created — I got an outsider’s overview of the strengths and weaknesses of his run. I’ve also worked in marketing for over 15 years, creating campaigns for Lexus, Levi-Strauss, and AT&T. Through my marketing agency, Inform Ventures, I’ve handled a big chunk of the national launch of Scion, Toyota’s heralded youth vehicle, helping take it from unknown to 160,000 vehicles a year. Some have referred to the people at my company as experts in marketing.
And it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been asked to support a candidate. In 2008, I was asked to help with the now-famous Obama “Hope” poster — the producer, a former employee, wanted to tap into my national network. I considered it — the artist was a former business partner that I wanted to support. But in the end I turned it down. I was near certain of Obama’s impending victory, but after doing some research, I decided that I didn’t trust him or believe in his vision. In politics, believing trumps all else.
So with curiosity and a marketer’s eye on the question of who could win the presidency, I closed my eyes and imagined both Ron and Rand Paul coming to me as a mediator — each prepared to fight hard to argue their superior attributes.
Virtual Rand grabbed quickly for the low-hanging fruit. “My dad can’t win the nomination without the media on his side, Patrick, and they won’t be,” he said flatly. And there’s some truth to that claim.
As any Dr. Paul enthusiast can attest to, Fox News pundits are not Ron Paul-friendly. With the exception of John Stossel and Judge Andrew Napolitano, and on occasion Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck, most right-leaning media have been and will be uniquely hostile to a Ron Paul candidacy. “He can’t win,” said Bill O’Reilly in a recent broadcast. And O’Reilly is just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the major conservative talk radio hosts, cable news pundits, writers, and bloggers have at some point taken definitively negative positions towards Paul-the-elder that cannot be walked back.
When I conceded it was a good point, virtual Ron shot back with, “So what? I wouldn’t be the first to win the nomination with the Republican establishment not on my side.” And he was right, as could easily be seen in the 2008 election. John McCain was challenged almost daily by many of the same conservatives, but still won the nomination.
So virtual Ron Paul was still in the game.