DeMint Warns Republicans Not to Ignore Paul Vote

The South Carolina senator urges his party not to ignore the libertarian congressman’s presidential run.

South Carolina senator Jim DeMint on Friday cautioned his fellow Republicans against ignoring the Ron Paul vote in their party’s presidential primary elections. “If Republicans don’t figure out how to listen to and understand some of the things he’s saying,” he told Fox News’ Hannity, it could break up the party.

Conservatives worry about a third party run by Paul because it could split the right-wing vote and enable President Barack Obama to win reelection in November.

Unlike previous primary contests, when Paul rarely won more than 10 percent of the vote, in Iowa and New Hampshire this month, he won more than 20 percent each time. Voters registered as independents were able to participate in both elections and Paul did especially well among them and voters under the age of 29. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, Paul won half the youth vote and in the latter, a third of self-declared independents.

Among first time voters, too, Paul’s limited government and anti-war rhetoric resonated but it’s anathema to many social conservatives and defense hawks who reject the Texas congressman’s candidacy as having no bearing on the party’s future. DeMint didn’t share that view on Friday. “The whole debate within the Republican Party needs to be between conservatives and libertarians,” he said.

Paul’s used to be mainstream conservatism in the United States. The Republican Party abandoned its noninterventionism in the wake of World War II while its emphasis on individual liberty eroded as a consequence of the religious revival of the 1980s which prompted even once presidential candidate and Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, whose views on the proper role of government were similar to Paul’s, to lament his party’s reactionary positions on cultural issues as abortion and gay rights.

Representative of the religious right in today’s primary race is former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum who rivaled frontrunner Mitt Romney for a first place finish in Iowa and who hopes to do well in South Carolina’s primary next week.

Santorum told National Public Radio in 2006 quite frankly that most conservatives do not embrace the notion of personal autonomy anymore. “Some do,” he admitted. “They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want.”

Although Paul is opposed to abortion rights, his views on drug legislation, education policy and marriage are far outside the mainstream of Republican thought. According to Santorum, it is “not how traditional conservatives view the world.”

I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.

Goldwater would beg to differ. So does between 5 and 7 percent of voters nationwide if Paul were to run as an independent in November’s presidential election.

At least 80 percent of his support as a third party candidate would come at the expense of the Republican ticket. States like Florida, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia, which were carried by George W. Bush in 2004 but won by Obama in 2008, could all go for the Democrat if Paul acts as a “spoiler” on the right. Together they wield 68 electoral votes which could tilt the balance in the president’s favor. So if only for electoral reasons, Republicans ought to take notice of Paul’s mounting popularity.


  1. I don’t understand how when 42% of the American public defines themselves as independant voters, and when Ron Paul receives approximately half of all independant votes, that it can be claimed that most of his votes come at the expense of the republican party. 3% of democrats at the new hampshire primary wrote Ron Paul over Barak Obama. As a neutral outside observer (Australian) I am stunned at the blatant distortion of facts by so many in the media. We know our news media is a bit distorted but its no where near as bad as you in “land of the free” have to deal with. At lest this proves the old adage that 80% of statistics are completely made up.

  2. People who register as “independents” range from the far left to the far right. A majority of them is right of center and more likely to vote Republican than Democrat.

    Among likely Republican voters (not registered Republicans), there is considerably sympathy for Paul. Among likely Democrat voters, there are rather few people who’d rather vote for Paul than the Democratic candidate. Hence, 80 percent of Paul’s support would come at the expense of the Republican nominee.

  3. For the record, Dr. Paul is a non-interventionist. You wrote, “The Republican Party abandoned its isolationism in the wake of World War II while its emphasis on individual liberty eroded as a consequence of the religious revival of the 1980s which prompted even once presidential candidate and Arizona senator Barry Goldwater.” However, journalists have made the distinction already that isolationism and non-interventionism are different policies. FYI, Dr. Paul practices the latter: a foreign policy of non-intervention.

    Furthermore, journalists have recently been overindulging in the word “anathema.” Did you use that word because writers from the New York Times and Washington Post “employed” it?

    Could you elaborate on this? “Although Paul is opposed to abortion rights, his views on drug legislation, education policy and marriage are far outside the mainstream of Republican thought.”

    Dr. Paul would beg to differ with your baseless assumptions. Republicans used to believe that we didn’t need the Department of Education. He also believes that marriage is between a man and woman, but states have jurisdiction on such matters–not the federal government. Are you saying Republicans are for abortion? Continuing the War on Drugs? Sanctioning nations and policing the world?

  4. Michael, I agree, “noninterventionism” is a better word to describe the Old Right’s position and Paul’s. I’ve edited my article accordingly. Thanks for the suggestion.

    I don’t read The New York Times and the Post only for the Opinion pages so I wouldn’t know if they use the word “anathema” a lot. (I prefer Politico and The Wall Street Journal for US news.)

    Paul wants to legalize drugs, get the government (and religion) out of schools and out of marriage. Most Republicans, by contrast, favor the War on Drugs, public education (although this is changing) and believe that the Federal Government has the power to define marriage. That’s why I wrote Paul’s views on these matters, but not on abortion, are “far outside the mainstream of Republican thought.”

  5. The Party REALLY needs to ask itself – how many national, state and local seats they want to lose as a result of their war on Dr. Paul. I’ve been a Republican for 30 years, but their tacit approval of the media’s treatment of Ron Paul has really opened my eyes. He’s the only one of them that strictly adheres to the Republican platform. If he’s persona non grata, what’s the point in voting Republican?

  6. Sean Hannity is the biggest Republican Shill there is! That clown supports wars/war mongering and illegal wars that have done nothing but enrich the already extreme wealthy….. then Hannity donates with his millions to the charity’s that help/support our soldiers and it makes himself feel better for the maiming and death our soldiers must endure.

    Profanity was removed from this comment

  7. Repugs of today are just about abortion and gays… Amazingly, the TEA party of limited government and spending is getting washed away into social issues… BIG MISTAKE!

    Santorum wants to regulate your uterus, while spending trillions of borrowed money to bomb Iran. This is the future of the republican party?

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