Ron Paul Explores, World Reacts


A roundup of reactions, some sensible and some silly, to Rep. Ron Paul's official announcement scheduled for today in Iowa of the launch of a Presidential Exploratory Committee for 2012:

*He laid down advanced word last night on Sean Hannity on Fox; Hannity somehow brings it around to the threat of Sharia law from radical Islam; Ron Paul tries to calm him down by reminding him that their threat to us is a result of our intervention over there. The video:

*Public Policy Polling has Paul's net favorability in the important early states of Iowa and New Hampshire as number two among the likely GOP field–behind Huckabee in Iowa and Romney in New Hampshire

*Business Insider notes Paul has moved way closer to the center of the debate since 2008:

In 2008, Paul ran a cult campaign as a libertarian, anti-Fed, anti-war Republican.

At the time, nobody in the GOP really cared about the Fed, and for the most part, Bush's wars enjoyed broad support.

Today they're Obama's wars, and the Fed is one of the most disliked institutions around, taking daily abuse even from mainstream outlets like CNBC.

It's inconceivable to think that in the GOP primary, candidates won't be asked for their position on Bernanke, quantitative easing, the role of the dollar, and of all the candidates, only Ron Paul has made a career on all these issues.

*Alex Moore at Death and Taxes gets it right that Ron Paul has a mix of ideas that should appeal to (and repel) both the standard right and left; he gets it wrong that this makes the fervently ideologically consistent and freedom-loving Paul analogous in a meaningful way to a waffling and weak Obama. That neither have dictatorial powers to achieve their goals over a truculent Congress or judiciary is true, but not really news.

*Christian Science Monitor suspects Paul's mostly in it for the bully pulpit of national candidacy to help grow the movement around his ideas.

*Time notes that, despite how many spin it as just one more outsider failure, Paul's dark horse campaign in 2008 was far more successful than anyone thought it would be:

In 2008, Paul was a phenomenal success, raising more than $34 million, founding a non-profit activist group, the Campaign for Liberty, and setting the stage for the grassroots revolts that greeted Obama when he came into office. This time around, [Paul campaign associate Jesse] Benton says the Paul team is looking at actually winning more votes in the early primary states, should Paul decide to pull the trigger on another campaign. The first step, he says, is a focus on early fundraising. "It was great that we raised so much money last time, but so much came in too late to effectively spend it," Benton explained.

On Dec. 16, 2007, the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, Paul raised $6 million in an online fund raising effort. But with only a couple of weeks left until the Iowa caucuses, there was no way to spend the money fast enough. As a result, Paul ended up buying ad time in states like Idaho, which were irrelevant to the nomination fight. (Paul did win nearly 30,000 votes in Idaho, or 24%.) "Partly because of Ron's desire, and partly spontaneously, it did become a 50-state campaign," says Benton.

*Politico gathers a huge roundtable of establishment political watchers to mostly gawp in amazement or damn with faint praise this bizarre image of a consistent and brave politician who stands for limited government who by definition apparently can't do well. A quick sample of quips:

*State Rep. Renee Schulte, an Iowa Republican: "In many ways, Ron Paul can be viewed as the envy of the second tier of candidates for the Republican nomination. He has what most candidates aiming for the first tier covet. A committed base of followers that will keep him registering in the polls? Check. A small-donor army that can finance his campaign throughout a protracted battle for the nomination? Check. A few hot-button issues (bury the Fed, bring home the troops) to keep him in the news? Check. Surely, Tim Pawlenty would likely trade several of his high-profile consultants for some of these advantages.

So with those advantages, what is Ron Paul missing? Growth potential."

*Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform: "Political leaders who bring new activists into the party are a great asset. Pat Robertson lost the 1998 Republican primary but brought 2 million activists into the Republican Party and created the Christian Coalition that greatly strengthened the conservative movement. Goldwater lost the general election in 1964 and rebuilt the Republican Party and put in on a course to be both a conservative and majority party.

Ron Paul is not an enthusiast for continuing the occupation of Afghanistan. But this is not Bush's war anymore. It is Obama's Wilsonian effort. Polling shows conservatives and tea party activists are open to a different approach. A conversation on how America can best defend itself is a useful and important conversation to have within the Republican Party and the conservative movement. If you like how things are going with Obama's approach—vote for him."

*Garry South, Democratic consultant [with the standard-issue insults that I think are losing power against Paul]: "Let's start by stating the obvious: Ron Paul has no chance of ever winning the Republican nomination or the presidency. It's not just his quirky, out-of-the-mainstream views, he also neither looks nor sounds like a president of the United States, and stature and gravitas play an important role in this process. Is it just me, or does Paul bear an eery resemblance to that guy who played "My Favorite Martian"? And many of his positions are from outer space, too."

*John Anzalone, Democratic consultant: "Ron Paul is a fundraiser not a vote-getter. He can raise impressive amounts of money and has absolutely no ability to turn that into votes."

*Steve Steckler of Infrastructure Management Group: "Ron Paul won't be president, and probably shouldn't be, but it would be worthwhile for every voting American, right or left, to spend some time trying to understand his libertarian take on contemporary issues. If life and liberty are essential conditions for the pursuit of happiness, then that leaves us only to debate whether they are sufficient."

*Michael Ostrolenk, national security consultant: "For those who think both constitutionally as Dr. Paul does and systemically, it's impossible to distinguish between our national debt and our foreign policy. Dr. Paul is one of the few candidates who offers an integrated and systemic way of understanding the difficulties we face as a country and the means to restore our Republic. The systemic understanding looks at the collusion between big business and big government, the central bank and the political elite."

*Ken Feltman, political consultant: "In my company's research, independent voters show almost no interest in Paul. They label him "humorless" and "crotchety." They do, however, express interest in some of his campaign issues. These voters also have a more positive impression of Paul's son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Maybe the messenger has overstayed his welcome."

*Christopher Hahn, Democratic consultant: "The GOP presidential contenders are weak and all have showed recent shifts in positions adjusting to the current right wing extremism that has taken hold of the party. This presents an opportunity for Ron Paul who's views on debt, foreign and domestic policy have been consistent.  Paul is the original tea partier.

Paul held up well and with good humor against Steven Colbert last night as well. See the video here.

My February 2008 Reason feature at the birth of the modern Ron Paul movement. And my January 2007 interview with him as his 2008 exploratory committee launched.