Don’t Believe the Ron Paul Hype

The Texas congressman might win Iowa—but that’s about it.

—By Tim Murphy

Ron Paul 
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)

If at any point during the past three decades you had suggested that Ron Paul might win a major Republican nominating contest, you’d probably get a response resembling the face the Texas congressman makes when he’s outlining the case for legalizing the sale of raw milk: two parts incredulity, one part mild amusement, a dash of electric shock.

And yet, with the Iowa caucuses one month out, the odds have never been better for the septuagenarian libertarian icon. The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, a good barometer of DC wisdom, suggested on Wednesday that Paul might even be a serious contender for the nomination if he would just “hedge his foreign policy views.” By which he means: Cut back on the isolationism and whisper more sweet nothings about Israel. (Paul’s already taken steps toward the latter.)

Paul might just win Iowa. As Red State founder Erick Erickson points out, he’s worked the state harder than almost anyone else and honed his message to appeal to corn belt conservatives (the raw milk line is a winner). But that doesn’t make him a serious contender. As Politico’s Maggie Haberman and others have pointed out, Paul’s candidacy has a clear ceiling. Until his opponents start talking about the following issues, you’ll know Paul isn’t a serious threat:

The newsletters: Since 1978, Paul published and sold a newsletter (known alternatively as Ron Paul’s Political Report, Ron Paul’s Survival Report, and Ron Paul’s Freedom Report) to tens of thousands of libertarians scattered across the country. Especially in the beginning, it played into the concerns of a certain kind of conservative white guy. As the New Republic reported, the newsletters suggest Paul is “not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing—but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.” Some excerpts:


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