View Full Version : If money bombs become vote bombs, Paul could be a force

12-16-2007, 11:40 PM
By Tom Baxter
Southern Political Report

December 17, 2007 — In our lifetimes, the great renegades of presidential politics have almost always been Democrats.

The Republicans’ off-the-reservation candidates have tended to be those, like Pat Robertson or Pat Buchanan, who represent just another strain of the party’s prevailing conservatism. The Democratic primaries, on the other hand, have been a stage for candidates spanning the ideological spectrum from George Wallace to Jesse Jackson, candidates who’ve questioned not only the party line but national assumptions in times of major turmoil.

That’s why Ron Paul’s campaign has made this year’s presidential race distinctively different, as much so in its way as the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

This time around, the really uneasy moments of conflict over the most controversial issue of the race, the war in Iraq, have taken place in Republican debates. Dennis Kucinich in his liberal way is just as opposed to the war as Paul in his libertarian way, but he doesn’t draw boos from Democratic audiences. Paul is a candidate truly at odds with the positions of his party, while claiming to represent its deepest principles.

One story line about the presidential election goes roughly like this: The surge worked – well enough – voters have turned their attention to the worsening economy, and so the war in Iraq matters less as an issue than it did a few months ago.

The problem with this formulation is that Barack Obama, who has made more of his opposition to the war than Hillary Clinton, now leads her in several early-state polls, and Paul is on his way to leading the Republican field in fourth quarter fundraising. That was even before Sunday’s “money bomb,” an internet celebration of the Boston Tea Party that set a single-day record for presidential money raised, most of it in amounts of $100 or less. What’s happening in both parties suggests that even if it has receded from the front pages, the war remains a brooding presence in this presidential campaign.

Paul’s renegade appeal is remarkably elastic. A bit of Eugene McCarthy with a dash of Ross Perot and a Jimmy Stewart delivery, he’s a magnet for anti-government sentiment, left, right and center. The fire in the heart of this campaign is his opposition to the war, but for many young, libertarian-leaning Republicans he also gives the clearest voice to their frustrations over the party’s big-spending, blundering-government ways. You can spot his bumper stickers in neighborhoods that otherwise divide cleanly, red or blue.

Come January, Paul will have money in the bank, a zealous and devastatingly internet-savvy base of supporters – and perhaps an advantage in the expectations game.

The first real test of the political year will be on a predictably frigid January night in Iowa, and we’re told Paul’s grassroots support there has become more visible, along with Mike Huckabee’s. If Paul has a double-digit finish, he’ll have leaped ahead of his position in nearly all the polls this year and might jolt the main stream media, which his supporters complain is ignoring him.

Any speculation about what Paul might make of such an opportunity probably should wait until he pulls it off. But with a few million to spend on advertising, a message that stands out in either party and New Hampshire a week away, Paul would be, by renegade standards, in very good shape.


12-16-2007, 11:42 PM
Awesome article... seems like we truly are just getting started guys. I'm along for the the ride ALL THE WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE!