Ron Paul Campaign Pull Back: Clarifications from the Campaign

A conference call Tuesday morning for the press with Jesse Benton of the Ron Paul campaign strove to clarify that in fact Ron Paul is not dropping out or suspending his campaign, though he still is planning on not campaigning much in forthcoming primary states. Highlights from Benton and my comments:

Benton admits something that some Paul fans, with their belief that there is no such thing as a "bound delegate," don't want to admit: that Romney "has very likely an insurmountable delegate lead," with just 200 more needed to lock it down. "We acknowledge that we are very unlikely to be able to block that nomination."  

Still, Benton says, the energy of the movement is growing: Paul has spoken to more than 100,000 college kids in his recent campus swings. And that sort of campaigning, as well as appearing at state GOP conventions like this weekend's upcoming one in Minnesota, will continue. Benton also praised Paul people's victories in taking party leadership positions, singling out Ashley Ryan, the new national committeewoman from Maine and a Paul fan.

He stressed they still hope to come in with the largest delegation of Paul supporters into Tampa they can--but in what I take to be a reaction to the hubbub at the Oklahoma and Arizona conventions over the weekend, he stresses again and again that respect and decorum are their desired name of the game for every step of the process, which he thinks will help Paul people become a "stronger voice in the Party." To some Paul fans, talk of "decorum" has a bit much of the feel of giving in to procedural tricks or bullying on the part of the Party establishment.

While any agreement on things like a speaking slot or an endorsement between Paul and Romney is roundly denied, Benton does speak of "contact with the Romney campaign" on platform issues, especially Federal Reserve transparency, prohibition of indefinite detention, and "Internet freedom."

The campaign also wants to make sure that their people are able to "vote on rules for the next four years and create a favorable rules environment for our people and set the stage for other liberty candidates to rise in the GOP." As I write, I'm not sure of the specifics of what rules the Paul campaign hopes to change and why that will help future liberty candidates. Benton repeated that respect and civility and decorum are the watchwords for the campaign and its activists moving forward--though I think Benton understands, even if he might regret, that while Ron Paul is seen as an ideological leader by his activists, he is not a military-style leader who can order his troops to behave or stand down.

While Benton refuses to say Paul will endorse Romney, he believes that "if our ideas are embraced and treated with respect, I think the GOP has a very good change to pick up a substantial number of votes" from Paul people. "If we are treated like in '08, then I think a lot of people will stay home or sit on their hands." Agreed, though I think it will be very hard for a Romney like the Romney of today to pick up many Paul fan votes. The vote is not like matter that can neither be created nor destroyed; Paul invented his vote and without him I think a majority of it will disappear in November.

Benton says there is "no chance" of an endorsement of Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party.

He hopes their troops do not feel "abandoned" by the perception of a Paul drop-out.

He says worries about whether Obama might beat Romney without a Paul endorsement will not compel Paul to give such an endorsement.

Asked whether the Paul campaign is concerned by possible acting out in public by groups like "Combat Veterans for Paul," Benton says that a free people can do whatever they want, march or protest or whatever, and that Paul's campaign does not feel accountable for the behavior of any Paul supporters who are not "Paul delegates on the convention floor" who they intend to hold to, again, respect, professionalism, civility, decorum.

I still believe that announcement from Monday--even followed up by this and this explanation of the delegate and convention strategy moving forward--was a mistake, and it should have been understood that it would be spun by nearly everyone as "Paul drops out." If that was no part of their intent, they would have been better set continuing to not campaign hard, not spend much, raise a little cash via moneybomb when they needed it, and let the story continue to be "Paul keeps racking up delegates" and not "Paul drops out, no he doesn't, he's still winning delegates, but he's not campaigning, but it will all be done with decorum, you can bet that."

The Atlantic and Slate on the Benton conference call.

My book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired, is now out.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • SIV||

    Get Ron Paul on the TeeVee if you want to sell some books. Seems like you missed the opportunity of releasing it in the heat of the campaign. Back when it would have sold a lot of copies.

  • Lysander Jefferson||

    You've become a troll, SIV. I plan to read the book. I look forward to Doherty posts because he is one of the few journalists who addresses aspects of the news in which I am interested. So please STFU or say something new.

  • Brandon||

    Shorter SIV: GO TEAM ROMNEY!!!

  • Bernieyeball||

    “I’m angry beyond belief,” said Brian Doherty.
    Ron Paul Biographer…Campaign Shift is Utter Idiocy
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/wei…..iocy_.html
    “How does it feel that Ron Paul kneecapped your book today?” asked Welch

  • Xenocles||

    See, this got linked to yesterday. Try adding some content to your comment. Watch this:

    So, Brian, are you still angry beyond belief over this or has the explanation satisfied you?

    That doesn't look so hard, does it?

  • Lysander Jefferson||

    You're all so clever. This is like your drink game. You say the same thing over and over, and think it just as funny.

  • Bernieyeball||

    This link to the Slate item works.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/wei.....iocy_.html

  • ||

    OT: Just heard about an email from Moveon.org:

    BREAKING NEWS FROM WISCONSIN: The Democratic National Committee isn't investing in the massive get out the vote effort in Wisconsin to recall Scott Walker.
    Wisconsin is ground zero for Democrats this summer—and there are only three weeks before Election Day—which is why this breaking news just doesn't make sense.

    The union darling, Kathleen Falk, was hammered in the Democrat primary.

    Scott Walker, who unions and the media assured us was universally despised in Wisconsin, got almost as many votes as all the Democrats combined.

    And now we learn that the DNC has decided not to waste another dime on the recall.

    One down. Bring on the Occutards and whatever iteration that ACORN will take this year.

    Perhaps people are waking up to just how insane we have become as a country.

    Even those who have valid reason to hate the Republican version of bullshit.

  • sticks||

    the Democratic Governors Association announced that another $700,000 was sent last week to fund a Greater Wisconsin ad buy ...Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) has announced a trip to the state to campaign with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Barrett faces Gov. Scott Walker (R) on June 5. (Update: The $700,000 is included in the DGA’s already-announced $2 million investment.)
  • BigT||

    Debbie W-S should scare away even more voters.

  • Mike M.||

    Yep, the parasitic scum are going to lose again in their little snit against Walker. He's doing exactly what he said what he do during his campaign: trying to get the state's finances in order, not just for now, but into the future as well.

  • sticks||

  • sticks||

    So Debbie is flying into town but the DNC isn't coughing up any more beyond that?

  • ||

    That's the impression I got. Remarkably, they seem to understand the concept of sunk costs and throwing good money after bad just fine when it's their money.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Question for the commentariat. Would you vote for Romney if he promised to make Ron Paul Secretary of the Treasury? State? Leader of the Fed?

    I have said many times that I will not vote for Romney. What would I do if he were to give Ron or Rand high positions in his administration? I could be tempted.

  • Romulus Augustus||

    The best hope for libertarians who wish to stay in the GOP is for Romney to go down to defeat. That clears the decks for 2016 and a real debate for the hearts and minds of the GOP. A Romney victory locks him into the 2016 nomination and, if he wins, his veep - likely to be another neo so con, into 2020. So, if you want real change in the GOP in your lifetime, you have to root against Romney this time.

  • ||

    It'a about as likely as him making Tommy Chong head of the DEA, but yes, that could definitely get me to switch my vote from LP, if only for the lulz when he gets in office and starts upsetting the establishment.

  • Brandon||

    No. Romney would still be Romney, would still be in charge, and that would take Rand's voice out of the Senate.

  • ||

    I think the best hope to advance the libertarian cause is to stir up the GOP establishment. A Rand Paul in the VP position would be better than two psychos with no understanding of basic economics (i.e. Obama-Biden) in the top two executive positions. In any event, the most important thing is going to be electing conressmen and senators of a libertarian bent. The only thing a GOP president can do for the libertarian movement is appoint SC justices that are leery of government intervention. Romney obviously won't do anything to alter the status quo, regardless of who's VP, but an unchecked Obama presidency would fuck things up much worse.

  • NoTalentAssclown||

    As i said in a post yesterday, Dr. Paul seems pretty concerned about the behavior of supporters at the conventions, and is really trying not buck the establishment. He does not want to burn bridges within the GOP and is trying to set up Rand for the future....

  • Brandon||

    But Rand keeps saying stupid stuff.

  • Proprietist||

    "Benton says there is "no chance" of an endorsement of Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party."

    That's a pretty adamant statement, unfortunately. I thought this was about liberty and not about Ron Paul.

  • Brandon||

    I think that part is about Jesse Benton.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement