What is Ron Paul's end game?

Ron Paul may not win the Republican 2012 nomination. But Ron Paul may have enough delegates to get libertarian issues on the GOP platform.

REUTERS/Jason Reed
Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich listen to Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at Republican presidential candidates debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, January 16, 2012.

Ron Paul may not go rogue because of the aspirations of his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) But that doesn’t mean he’s going to bow out of the presidential race quietly.

Last week, Decoder noted BuzzFeed’s piece explaining why Rand Paul’s political ambitions inside the GOP will make it unlikely for Ron to mount an independent presidential bid.

However, an excellent piece from Sam Stein at The Huffington Post underscores Paul’s extensive organizational capabilities and his drive to capture as many GOP delegates as possible. With those delegates, Paul will be able to push his libertarian views into the party discussion at the national convention. If that’s the story, it lines up well with BuzzFeed’s reporting suggesting that Paul père’s run this year is helping bring libertarianism into the GOP mainstream for Paul fils to mount a presidential campaign in several years’ time.

Back to the delegates. Take this “for instance” from Stein’s piece (with emphasis from Decoder):

Puerto Rico will award 23 delegates when its citizens caucus on March 18. New Hampshire, punished for moving its election into early January, will award only 12. On Tuesday, roughly 245,000 people voted in the Granite State’s primary. During the 2008 cycle, Puerto Rico’s caucus resulted in a total vote count of 208.

With that many delegates at risk over that few votes, it would stand to reason that the current GOP field would be making manic maneuvers to shore up support in Puerto Rico. But so far, only one candidate seems to be doing much, if anything: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

According to his campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, Paul has a coordinator in Puerto Rico. The campaign has a “Hispanic for Ron Paul” team that prominently features a Puerto Rican business-leader. A non-affiliated group, Puerto Rico for Ron Paul, has also been disseminating caucus-related information.

That the Texas Republican is investing any resources at all in Puerto Rico may strike some as wasteful. Few political observers take Paul seriously as a potential nominee, even after he scored a second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. Primaries, after all, are won through momentum: a few early victories beget others, which, in turn, beget more donors, endorsements, excitement, and ultimately more victories.

The Paul campaign does not subscribe to that theory.

“Ours is a delegate strategy,” said Benton. “We want to win the 1,100 delegates. If [former Massachusetts Gov.]Mitt Romney has secured 1,150 delegates, then it is game over. But we are going to contest that until the very end, and again we have a goal. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think we can win 1,150 delegates.”

Who is Paul looking to for inspiration? It might surprise you: President Obama’s primary run. Here’s Stein:

It’s the Money Ball of campaign strategies and it’s rooted in, of all places, Obama’s 2008 campaign.

“You try to look at what models have worked in the past and Obama’s model worked,” said Benton. “Now we have different ideas about where we would like to take the country, but he ran a brilliant campaign. He unleashed his grassroots to work hard, get involved in their communities, and really fight for some principles and that’s what we are trying to do too.”

And the endgame?

“Let’s say they clean up in the caucus states,” the source said. “Let’s say they control 20 votes out of 100 in those committees, then they can force votes on those issues. They can make a motion on the floor to amend the agenda, to amend the platform … They could force certain issues to be voted on. They could force the convention to consider certain questions and force the human beings on the committees to address certain things. How about a more robust version of the ‘audit the Fed’ platform? All of a sudden you will get recorded votes on those issues.”

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