Why Ron Paul is not going away

Timothy Stanley says Ron Paul appeals to those who don’t regard religious piety or war as sacred tenets of conservatism

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Editor’s note: Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for Britain’s Daily Telegraph. He is the author of the new book “The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan.”

(CNN) — Newt Gingrich quit the presidential race on Wednesday. Long after he exhausted the patience of the voters, he finally concluded that the mathematical probability of winning the Republican nomination was next to nil. Why spend money and raise false hopes if you can’t win? Best to get out now and join the veepstakes.

That’s the kind of logic that an ordinary, candidate-focused campaign employs. Ron Paul, on the other hand, refuses to drop out. Commanding a plurality of delegates in only one state, and having taken just 10.61 percent nationally so far, it could be argued that the 76-year-old libertarian has even less reason to carry on than Gingrich — except perhaps to collect the air miles.

However, unlike Gingrich, Paul’s campaign represents a message that is bigger and perhaps more popular than the candidate himself. As it continues to collect small numbers of delegates and capture control of local GOPs, Paulism is proving itself to be in rude health. Long after Mitt Romney is nominated, feted at the convention, beaten by Obama and recycled as a question on Jeopardy (“In 2012, he lost every state but Utah.” “Who is … Britt Gormley?”), Paul’s philosophy will still be a factor in national politics — something to be feared and courted in equal measure.

Timothy Stanley

Team Paul has certainly made some big errors this year, such as exclusively focusing on Iowa and New Hampshire. Although he did well in both, only a first in either would have really justified the expense. Thereafter, the campaign unwisely ignored South Carolina and Florida, reasoning that their expensive media markets weren’t worth the effort. As a consequence, Paul was ignored for weeks until Nevada. I am informed by Paul sources that their campaign was counting on Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to drop out after they realized they couldn’t win, which would have allowed Ron Paul to emerge as the only conservative challenger to Romney.

Of course, that’s not what happened.

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