Texas congressman Ron Paul, a libertarian candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, said he had “no plans” for a third party run on Sunday but wouldn’t rule out the possibility altogether.
Paul, who is competing for second place in the Iowa caucus next month, could cost Republicans the presidency next year if he runs independently.
Conservative columnist George Will described in The Washington Post this weekend how Paul could act as a “spoiler” for the eventual nominee if he runs as an independent. Although he enjoys broad support in Iowa, nationally, “his ceiling is low,” according to Will, “but his floor is solid.”
His supporters are inclined to accept no substitutes because no other candidate espouses anything like his high octane blend of libertarianism and isolationism.
Paul could capture between 5 and 7 percent of the vote nationwide. At least 80 percent of his support would come at the expense of the Republican candidate. That could enable Barack Obama to hold on to Florida, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia, four states that were carried by George W. Bush in 2004 and won by the Democrat in 2008. Together they wield 68 electoral votes which could very well tilt the balance in the president’s favor.
A Paul candidacy would probably also allow Obama to win in Arizona and Missouri. Each has twelve electors and each voted for John McCain in the previous election.
Will doesn’t consider an independent candidacy at all unlikely. “Ron Paul may think what his ideology implies,” he warns: “that Obama is only marginally more mistaken than Paul’s Republican rivals who do not wake up each day angry about the 1913 Federal Reserve Act.”
Indeed, appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Paul said that frontrunners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney “come from the same mold” and he criticized all of his fellow contenders because, he said, “they more or less support the status quo.”
How many of them challenge our foreign policy? How many challenge the monetary system? How many people challenge the welfare system? How many want real cuts?
Whereas other presidential candidates have proposed cuts in projected spending increases, Paul would cut $1 trillion in federal spending compared to the actual budget. None of the candidates however, including Paul, would manage to balance the budget in the short term because they also want to cut taxes.