Rand Paul, Mitt Romney, and the Future of the Ron Paul Revolution


As Ed Krayewski blogged here Friday, Sen. Rand Paul shook up the Ron Paul fan world by his (fully expected, by all those who followed Rand's career and spoke to him much) endorsement of Mitt Romney for president. (I was slightly surprised only by the timing–I thought he would likely wait until the Tampa convention. But his father had just admitted the day before that he wasn't going to win.) 

My first, scrambled thoughts on the topic are quoted in this article from Business Insider by Grace Wyler, who follows the Paul movement intelligently, via a phone interview she did with me on Friday while I was on the road in Portland promoting Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

To sum them up again myself: Rand Paul is of course playing a delicate game of trying to build on his father's libertarian base out to the more standard red-state right-wing-talk-radio mainstream edge of the Republican Party.

In doing so he may (and may rightly) think he needs the most hardcore no-compromise edge of the Paul movement less than they think he does; but if he blithely assumes he will have the giving, activist energy of that movement on his side moving forward, he's wrong. The very fact that most Ron Paul fans always thought of their guy as the type who would never just go along to get along on any level is key to why they support him so fervently. Again, though, it remains to be seen how large a percentage of the over 2 million people who voted for Paul this primary season are the kind of hardcore who will be alienated permanently from Rand by this endorsement. 

But the political importance of the Paul movement will be reflected in the next 4-8 years in ways other than votes for president, especially if no presidential candidate fully embodies Paulian principles.

*Good Daily Paul post and comment thread summing up the hardcore Paul fan reaction to the Rand endorsement, both those disgusted and those who see it as a sensible strategic normalizing of Paulite ideas within the GOP moving forward.

*Jeffrey Phelps at Examiner.com sees the endorsement as the ultimate betrayal; Barry Lyndon at Policymic as a strategically brilliant move that will further the Paul cause.

*Former Rand Paul campaign manager in his Senate primary in Kentucky in 2010, David Adams, feels "shock and dismay" and points out Rand can't necessarily deliver voters to Romney with this endorsement.

*In happier Rand Paul news, he signs on to a proposed amendment to an omnibus farm bill that would legalize industrial hemp.

*Rick Santorum fears Paulite platform influence in Tampa, as the fight to change the GOP marches on, endorsement or no.

*Jack Hunter, co-author of Rand Paul's book The Tea Party Goes to Washington, also points out that Rand endorsing the eventual nominee was already in the cards, and that the announcement came after Ron Paul himself issued a statement admitting he would not be able to win.

Hunter argues that Rand's authority with the typical Republican voter who he will have to win over in the future would be ruined if he had not agreed to endore the party's candidate, whoever it is. Hunter sums up it as a move that is "a political compromise with the ultimate goal of advancing our principles. This is always Sen. Paul's guiding principle." For those reading the "what does Ron think?" tea leaves, it is worth noting this video appeared at the official Ron Paul 2012 web site.:

Tom Woods, author of the Ron Paulite bestseller Meltdown, makes an open call to Ron Paul: don't endorse Mitt Romney. Woods rightly notes it is Paul's so-far successful career as a man who does not knuckle under to the establishment would have its legacy ruined if he does such a thing: