Ron Paul has said time and again that he won't run as an independent this year: He'll follow the GOP nomination process and that'll be that. But he refused to say he'd endorse a non-Ron Paul GOP nominee, so the speculation machine creaks again. Here's Bob Novak, and here, more speculatively, is Matt Continetti, who wonders about James Dobson's rumbling about a pro-life third party…
Would Dobson support Paul or Tancredo? It's unlikely. Which suggests that, if certain improbable but possible events occur—such as this man winning the GOP nomination—we may have not only a third party candidate, but perhaps even a fourth-party candidate running in a general election.
Why wouldn't Dobson support Paul or Tancredo? Both men are pro-life, and both are rock-solid against gay marriage. (I've heard Paul mock "gay marriage" as an oxymoron invented by liberal judicial activists.) Dobson has made it very clear that he cares about these issues, and about general obediance to the evangelical movement, more than anything else. In 2005 he threatened to come out against Bush's Social Security reforms if the White House didn't mount another surge for the Federal Marriage Amendment.
I'd bet a lot of money against a Paul independent run. The man remembers how thankless and momentum-free his 1988 Libertarian run was: He's tripled the budget he had that year in a mere nine months of campaigning as a Republican. But if he did want to run he might be malleable enough to run as a strict Constructionist, Christian, Dobsonite candidate. It'd be a hammer blow to libertarians, but it's imaginable.
Anyway, the leap from "Paul won't endorse GOP" to "Paul will bolt party!" is muy premature: Angry mavericks go against their party all the time. Pennsvylvania Gov. Bob Casey, Sr. didn't endorse Bill Clinton; neither, the same year, did Maryland Gov. Will Don Schaefer. In 2004 Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) publicly un-endorsed Bush.
Meanwhile, Cynthia McKinney is going to win the Green Party nomination with a lot of Darren Aronofsky-helmed campaign videos: