Earlier this week, as Damon Root told us, nationally syndicated columnist George Will had many unkind words to say about the limited-government bonafides of Mitt Romney and especially Newt Gingrich. So what does the country's most syndicated columnist have to say about Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)? Among other things, Will says in a new column that an independent Paul run would tip the election to Obama:
When recently asked if he might mount an independent candidacy, he said: "I'm not thinking about it because, look, I'm not doing badly right now. ... So we concentrate only on one thing: Keep moving up in the polls, and see how things come out in a month or two."
He is in the top tier in Iowa, and would alienate Republican voters if he indicated an interest in bolting the party next autumn. Nationally, his ceiling is low, but his floor is solid: His supporters are inclined to accept no substitutes because no other candidate espouses anything like his high octane blend of libertarianism and isolationism.
Furthermore, he is now nationally known (he campaigned for the 2008 Republican nomination, and was the Libertarian Party's 1988 presidential candidate), has a large base of small donors, and his intense supporters probably could get his name on most states' ballots. He is not seeking re-election to his House seat, so what has he got to lose?
Well, his candidacy might guarantee Barack Obama's re-election, and this might hurt the career of his son Rand, the freshman senator from Kentucky. Other than that, however, Ron Paul may think what his ideology implies - that Obama is only marginally more mistaken than Paul's Republican rivals, who do not wake up each day angry about the 1913 Federal Reserve Act. [...]
At a minimum, a Paul candidacy would force the Republican nominee to spend time and money in places he otherwise might be able to economize both. And a Paul candidacy would make 2012 much easier for Obama than 2008 was. Now, reread Paul's words quoted above, particularly these: "right now" and "in a month or two."
Whole thing, including some back-of-the-napkin electoral calculations, here.
I think the biggest impediment to this scenario is that it is extremely unlikely to happen. The Paul insiders I have asked about this (including this week) have repeatedly said the same thing: It's not happening. Then again, the next six weeks or so may prove to be Ron Paul's high-water mark within GOP politics....