Vice President Paul?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Before it was clear Mitt Romney would be the GOP nominee, I noted that it wouldn’t be absurd to think a potential Romney-Paul deal could be in the works, making Rand Paul the running mate in exchange for helping Romney get over the 1,144 delegate hump.

Interestingly, now that Romney has reached the delegate count to avoid such a scenario — and Ron Paul has conceded he has no shot at the nomination — the idea hasn’t completely evaporated. The question remains: Might Rand be a bridge for Romney to the Tea Party that now constitutes a major part of the GOP base?

The American Conservative, a leading intellectual voice for non-interventionism, is abuzz today with chatter about Sen. Paul. Daniel McCarthy makes the case for Paul as a symbolic move for Romney, also arguing it would be a major victory for the libertarian wing of the partly. W. James Antle isn’t so optimistic, writing: “A Romney-Paul unity ticket sounds very compelling in theory. In practice, it would be unlikely to benefit either party.” And finally, Daniel Larison doubles down on Antle’s statement: “Romney isn’t going to offer Paul the VP slot, but Paul shouldn’t take it even if he did.”

I don’t think Paul should be written off so quickly, but I can understand the pessimistic tone from the TAC crew. The elements of the GOP that Rand’s father tapped into are but a small chunk of the GOP. That said, I still wouldn’t write off Rand’s chances. He’s not on my short list (that would be Sens. Rubio and Portman), but he wouldn’t be an absurd choice, either. He’s articulate, principled — and his message is an exciting one.

And there’s also this. As Reason’s Brian Doherty told me a while back, “There’s something about Rand that seems to be more comfortable to the Beltway, in a way that leads me to believe that — were Rand Paul to run for president next time around — he would both keep his father’s audience, and be able to build to an audience that his father has not yet reached.”

He’s everything you like about Ron Paul, without the crazy.

Matt K. Lewis