Updated: 6:58 AM ET April 4, 2012
WHAT WILL RON PAUL DO?
By Roger Stone In 1977 as Treasurer of the National Conservative Political Action Committee, I went to Houston Texas to work in the Special Election campaign of Ron Paul, the first time he was elected to Congress. I have long admired his faith in and consistent support of the US Constitution and the proper limits of government. I have also always admired his willingness to go against the grain and sometimes tell the unpopular truth. Congress Paul was a little disingenuous when he told the Washington Post that he would decide about an independent candidacy for President after the votes are counted at the National Republican Convention in Tampa. Congressman Paul knows full well that the Libertarian Party will choose it's likely nominee, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, at their May Convention in Las Vegas. The Libertarian Party nominee will be on the ballot in all 50 states as they were in 2008. Paul has clearly committed himself to attending and participating in the Republican Party Convention in August. Americans Elect will have designated their nominee who could also very well have ballot access in 50 states by June precluding another national ballot position from the Texas Congressman. Ron Paul knows full well that an effort to achieve 50 state ballot access - or anything like it - launched after the Republican National Convention is not legally, organizationally or financially feasible. Even Paul guru Lew Rockwell would admit this. In truth, Congressman Paul had his son's aspirations and place in the Republican establish hierarchy in mind when he decided not to pursue a third-party candidacy in 2012. Rand Paul clear;y has his own Presidential ambitions but a 2016 US Senate re-election and Kentucky's early filing deadline may make this problematic. Here is Ron Paul's dilemma. He cannot endorse Mitt Romney without destroying the very essence of what Ron Paul is - a man of principle rather than a politician playing party ball. Such an endorsement would truly demoralize and enrage many of Ron Paul's supporters and donors. At the same time, Governor Gary Johnson will be calling for the "continuation of the Ron Paul revolution" in the fall election presumably with a Vice Presidential running mate access to funds and / or celebrity. A new PPP poll shows Johnson - who is yet to receive any substantial national media coverage, other than this excellent clip on the Colbert Report is at 7% in a national race with Obama and Romney. A previous PPP poll showed Johnson at 9%, both numbers are within the margin of error. That Johnson has an excellent opportunity with additional media exposure to get to 10% of the vote or more. According to PPP, the votes Johnson receives come disproportionately from Romney, although he does poll 2% from Obama. 39% of Johnson voters would support Romney if Johnson weren't in the picture, while only 18% would go for Obama. When Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is included, Obama's lead over Romney expands to 7 points at 46-39, with Johnson taking 7%. Gary Johnson can clearly have an impact of the 2012 election. If Johnson gets 5% in 2012, the Libertarian nominee in 2016 will be eligible to get the same $90 million that the Republicans and Democrats get from the Federal Treasury for the General Election. If Johnson and his running mate poll at 15% they would both have to be admitted to the televised presidential debates. Remembering that Congressman Paul and Governor Johnson are the only two candidates who oppose the war in Afghanistan, would truly slash Federal spending and debt, eliminate taxes, kill the Patriot Act, end the expensive and failed "War on Drugs," and would legalize marijuana, it would be hard to Congressman Paul to explain his endorsement of Mitt Romney. The important question really is not "what will Ron Paul do" but "where do Ron Paul voters go?" The Ron Paul voters have disdain for Romney as a big government establishment Republican who is wrong on foreign policy, civil liberties, and economics. It is Gary Johnson's job to attract these voters, and he will. Ron Paul's endorsement of Romney would not wins these votes but Ron Paul's endorsement of Johnson will cement a movement and set the stage for history making. At the same time, Ron Paul's failure to endorse the one candidate who is carrying the torch for his agenda in the name of partisan politics would be hard to fathom.