Ron Paul Considering Third Party Bid

I’ve noted that in multiple interviews Ron Paul has denied plans to run as a third party candidate, but has also always left the door open a crack (much as Al Gore did much of the year). Paul has widened that opening quite a bit today with The Swamp reporting that Paul is now admitting to thinking about the subject:

If he doesn’t do well in the early primaries, Paul said he would re-evaluate his Republican bid and the possibility of a third-party run depending on how he does in the contests on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5.

“With my staff I’ve never discussed it, but I sort of have that in my mind.”

We will probably have a better idea as to whether there is much point in Paul remaining in the Republican race after the Iowa and New Hampshire votes. While Paul has virtually zero chance of winning the nomination his performances in the first two events might determine whether he is at least covered by the media as a long shot contender or remains lost in single digits. Paul is realistic in his assessment of Iowa, admitting that it is difficult to tell if he can surpass his single digit poll results:

“The one thing that we can’t measure as well as the ordinary polls is will our people be motivated? They seem to be motivated, but will they know where to go and what to do? That’s the big question,” Paul said in a Tribune interview, in between a day of Iowa events.

Should Paul manage to get a bounce out of a third place finish in Iowa, Paul is fortunate that the next state, New Hampshire, is the state where he has the best chance to surpass single digits. New Hampshire both has libertarian sentiments and a primary which independents have a considerable impact upon. If Paul could exceed single digits in New Hampshire, he also has a chance to do better than expected in Michigan. The Michigan Democratic primary is virtually meaningless, with Obama, Edwards, Richardson, and Biden not even appearing on the ballot. Many Democrats might be convinced to vote in the Republican caucus for the sole anti-war candidate.

The problem for Paul is that at best he has a shot of exceeding single digits in some early states, but ultimately the Republicans will not nominate an opponent of the war for their nominee. Paul’s support among liberal opponents of the war and independents will also begin to diminish should he get more publicity in the early states and his views become more well known.

Many people are now interested in Paul’s campaign seeing him simply as an opponent of the war and defender of civil liberties. While they hear he is also a defender of the Constitution, the Constitution which Paul defends is not what the framers intended. In reality, Paul is really advocating a government closer to what was established under the original Articles of Confederation, which was replaced when the need for a stronger central government became clear. Paul’s views of states’ rights, along with his denial of the establishment of separation of church and state, also negate his support for limited powers of the federal government. Paul’s opposition to abortion rights are known to many people, but his views leave open the danger of even further restrictions on individual liberty by state governments.

If concerns over state governments which could be oppressive and even theocratic by out current standards are too esoteric for most voters to consider, Paul’s support will also remain limited by his past writings as well as recent statements which call into question both his ethics and rationality. Paul’s newsletter contains racist articles which describe blacks as being prone to violence and unable to form sensible political opinions. Paul has claimed that others wrote these articles under his byline, but this explanation is hardly reassuring. Paul’s writings on the Israeli lobby have raised similar questions of anti-Semitism. These problems for Paul are exacerbated by his refusal to return a contribution which was identified as coming form Don Black, founder of the white supremacist group Stormfront. Regardless of whether Paul agrees with the extremist groups which support him, Paul’s treatment of such groups as a legitimate constituency in American politics crosses a line which is almost as bad. Paul also shows questionable judgment in his adherence to various conspiracy theories. His recent statement in which he denies evolution also shows a shocking lack of understanding of basic concepts of science for someone who was trained as a physician.

Ron Paul now has a small core of devoted followers, a respectable amount of money, but otherwise nowhere to go. He can neither win the Republican nomination or a general election and what he decides to do might come down to how much he wants to continue using the election to promote his views. Running as a Republican there is a slight but real hope that he could escape single digits and receive further coverage. If he fails to do this by Super Tuesday, then he might consider a third party candidacy in order to remain on the campaign trail until November. Just to be safe, Paul has also filed to run again for his current House seat.

Emails Suggest Edwards Knew About Union 527 Support

After Barack Obama criticized John Edwards for advertising being financed by  527 group Edwards tried to distance himself from the groups. A report in The New York Times suggests that the Edwards campaign might have been coordinating efforts with the 527 group:

In the final days before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, John Edwards has stepped up his criticism of outside organizations that spend money to influence elections, repeatedly disavowing a labor group that is blanketing Iowa with commercials supporting his candidacy.

“As for outside groups, unfortunately, you can’t control them,” Mr. Edwards said last weekend as he distanced himself from the actions of the group, known as a 527 for the section of the tax code it falls under. He would prefer the group “not run the ads,” he said.

But the Edwards campaign may have expected the support of the group, Alliance for a New America, set up by a local of the Service Employees International Union. An Oct. 8 e-mail message circulated among the union leaders who created the group suggests that they were talking with Edwards campaign officials about “what specific kinds of support they would like to see from us” just as they were planning to create an outside group to advertise in early primary states with “a serious 527 legal structure.”

Obama Asked About The Social Security “Crisis”

The Iowa Independent has a brief interview with Barack Obama. He was asked about Paul Krugman’s recent columns attacking him for raising Social Security. In his columns Krugman has mischaracterized Obama’s position on Social Security by trying to lump together anyone who raises concern for its long term viability with Republicans who use the program’s problems as justification for privatization. Obama’s response:

I’m familiar with Paul’s arguments.I have said that this is a long-term problem. I’ve never suggested that this is somehow a crisis in the same way that George Bush argues with privatization.  There is a long-term problem demographically because the Baby Boom generation is retiring. It’s just common sense. The Social Security actuaries said the same thing. Bill Clinton said the same thing in 1998. I suspect that Paul Krugman in the past has acknowledged as much as well. And what I’ve simply said is that we should deal with it sooner rather than later. The longer we delay solving it, the harder it’s going to be solve, the more costly it’s going to be for future generations. Part of my message in running is that we have to start taking responsibility now for solving these problems instead of kicking the can down the road.

That sounds perfectly reasonable. Yes, some Republicans do exaggerate the problems for political purposes. That does not mean that the inevitable problems which will be created by demographic changes should be ignored. In his recent writings Krugman increasingly sounds like the far right Republicans. Krugman argues for different positions, but shares their practice of only considering one set of extreme views while dismissing all other opinions. We don’t need that mindset from the left any more than from the right.