Ron Paul's strength in Iowa shows it's too soon to write him off
Though he has a large and loyal following, Ron Paul's positions on key issues sets him apart from many Republicans. But he keeps moving steadily toward a position of strength in the early voting – especially in Iowa.
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The State Column, an online source of state political news, notes that Paul took second place in the Ames Straw Poll in August (finishing just 1 percentage point behind Bachmann), and he won a Values Voter Summit straw poll in October and a California Republican Party straw poll in September.Skip to next paragraph
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He also won an Ohio GOP poll with 53 percent of the votes, an Iowa straw poll at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies in Des Moines with 82 percent of the votes, and an Illinois straw poll with 52 percent of the vote – more than Romney or Cain.
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Much of that can be attributed to a hearty band of Paul loyalists – many of them young supporters – who do the most important thing in such contests: show up and vote.
In a way, Mr. Zogby points out, Paul is like Ralph Nader, even though he’s running as a major party candidate and not a third party outlier.
“In both cases, the support for Paul and Nader is a rejection of both parties,” Zogby writes. “Don’t expect Paul to endorse one of his GOP rivals, or for it to matter very much to libertarians if he did.”
Paul’s advantage is that rejecting both parties is a huge part of the tea party movement (at least before it started running its own Republicans in 2010) as well as of libertarianism. His challenge is that electability – finding the candidate most likely to defeat Barack Obama – has become the main thing Republicans are looking for in whichever champion they finally settle on.
Much of what Paul advocates is appealing to at least one faction of the Republican Party (mainstream, tea party, and socially conservatives), whether it’s about abortion, the definition of marriage, government regulation, foreign aid, military actions abroad, health care, or immigration.
He describes himself as “a constitutionalist” in ways that could appeal to civil libertarians. (He advocates an end to the Patriot Act, warrantless searches, the TSA, and the “war on drugs.”)
But it’s hard to imagine a Republican Party presidential candidate these days who would not support a constitutional ban on abortion, would cut defense spending by nearly a billion dollars, would shutter at least a half dozen departments of federal government, would leave it to religions (and not government) to define marriage, or who would end all US aid to Israel.
Still, Ron Paul keeps moving steadily toward a position of strength in the early voting – especially in Iowa. So he may yet surprise the pundits writing him off today.
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