Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, once considered a fringe candidate, is not only rising in the polls to challenge those considered GOP presidential frontrunners, but is now being taken seriously as a threat in Iowa and New Hampshire by some members of the so-called Washington establishment.
During the “Roundtable” segment of ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, panelists Matthew Dowd, a former campaign strategist for President George W. Bush, and Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speechwriter, explained why Paul is a legitimate contender.
“The other thing I think Christiane to watch is Ron Paul. Ron Paul is right now, he’s second in Iowa,” Dowd said. “He’s second in New Hampshire. And of the people in top tier, he has the most passion behind his candidacy. I would not be surprised at all seven weeks from now that Ron Paul wins the Iowa caucuses and goes into New Hampshire, disrupts this field even more.”
Noonan said a Paul win in Iowa would provide the candidate significant momentum going into the New Hampshire primary.
“Oh, it would be disruptive,” Noonan said. “When you win Iowa, you go into New Hampshire with a certain amount of momentum. We all know this and no one has taken Ron Paul seriously, therefore when Iowa does, everybody will stop and say, ‘What the heck?’”
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Later in the discussion, Washington Post columnist George Will said Paul was a real threat in another way – he could emerge as a third-party candidate.
“I want to stay with Ron Paul for a second,” Will said. “You said look out for him in six, seven weeks. Look for him in eight months. He’s not running for Congress again. He could be a third-party candidate. He has dedicated people in place. If he got 4 percent of the vote, there are a whole number of states with their electoral votes that he can tip over with those.”
And that would guarantee President Obama’s re-election, Noonan said.
“He can absolutely give the race to Obama,” Noonan added.