Mitt Romney is sliding in the polls, Newt Gingrich is surging (at least for now), and neither candidate excites conservatives. A giant question mark hangs over the Republican-primary field. Washington Post columnist George Will and many others have speculated that the GOP’s apparent disarray could compel libertarian Ron Paul, with his sizeable base of enthusiastic supporters, to mount an independent bid for the presidency.
Naturally, most Republicans shudder at the thought, fearing such a bid would all but ensure Obama’s reelection. They needn’t lose much sleep.
Although Ron Paul can’t do an interview these days without being asked about the possibility of a third-party run, it seems the media can’t take no for an answer. “I have no plans to do that,” he told NBC’s David Gregory. “I’m not even thinking about it,” he said on Fox News. “I have no intention of doing it,” he insisted on CNN’s State of the Union. “I have no plans whatsoever to do it.” Which is what one should expect to hear from any candidate in his position — running for the Republican nomination.
Of course, when pressed to “categorically, unequivocally, authoritatively, unconditionally, swear-on-your-first-born-son absolutely” rule out the possibility, Paul hedges. “I’m not going to rule anything out or anything in,” he told a relentless David Gregory on Sunday. “I don’t talk in absolutes.”
Still, a source close to the Paul campaign tells National Review Online that the media should get over their third-party fixation. “Asking this question over and over again of a candidate who’s actually doing quite well in competing for the Republican nomination is both silly and insulting,” the source says. “Is anyone asking Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich about running third-party if they don’t get the nomination?”
Although the media may refuse to believe it, Paul is in the race to win. “Look, I’m not doing badly right now,” the candidate recently told Fox News’s Neil Cavuto in response to yet another third-party question. “We’re very happy with our polls. . . . We concentrate only on one thing: Keep moving up in the polls, and see how things come out in a month or two.”
Indeed, Paul is consistently polling second or third in early-primary states Iowa and New Hampshire. A Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday has Paul within one point of frontrunner Newt Gingrich in Iowa, as support for the former speaker has waned over the past week. Money-wise, Paul has always been a prolific fundraiser. The campaign is holding a “money bomb” on December 16 to coincide with the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. A similar drive during the 2008 GOP primary raised more than $6 million from nearly 60,000 individual donors — in one day.
This year, Paul will almost certainly have the resources to last well beyond the first leg of contests. The campaign recently opened state headquarters in Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Washington State — states that hold their primaries in February and March.