Ron Paul’s staying power threatens to alter debate

January 11, 2012

By Daniel Indiviglio and Martin Hutchinson

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary but Ron Paul’s showing could have as big an effect on the race. After finishing third in Iowa, the Texas Republican placed second in the Granite State, securing nearly one in four votes. That keeps him in the hunt to challenge Romney for now and could inspire him to make a third-party run later. Either way, the longer Paul sticks around, the more the national debate is likely to shift on important economic issues.

Paul’s crusade against the Federal Reserve will keep the spotlight on the central bank and Chairman Ben Bernanke. Paul’s desire to strengthen the dollar and sharply raise interest rates could resonate with voters, especially if inflation noticeably picks up by summer. And Romney and Barack Obama would be put in the unenviable position of supporting a weaker dollar, or explaining a more nuanced view on a complex subject.

The matter of domestic spending will stay front and center with Paul around, too. He would cut to the bone, while Romney and Obama are more inclined to slice surgically, if at all. The libertarian-leaning candidate would axe at least five agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, and push harder for expanding domestic oil exploration than Romney, potentially leaving him on the defensive.

On tax reform, Paul is also more aggressive than Romney. While the frontrunner would extend the Bush-era tax cuts and make other small tweaks to the code, Paul wants a bigger overhaul. His push for simplification, ending many deductions and a flat tax will keep the hot-button issues on the agenda.

The biggest distinction would be on foreign policy. Paul wants to hack military spending and engagement deeper than either Romney or Obama, perhaps even pulling U.S. troops out of Europe. He also wants less U.S. funding for the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. That’ll leave the other two candidates trying to tell voters why their tax dollars should help defend far-flung nations or stabilize their economies.

A third-party run by Paul probably would ensure an Obama win. It would also, however, make the president answer uncomfortable questions and even catalyze some subtle but important shifts in policy.

Comments

Romney should just do what is best for this country and drop out. Let a Paul/Huntsman ticket take the election. Then in 8 years once huntsment has been schooled by Paul on how its done he can be president followed by rand paul who should be ready by then.

Posted by dddienst | Report as abusive
 

I’m glad to see an actual article about Dr. Paul which using logic. I think it could be possible that Ron Paul could win as a third party candidate. There are a lot of people who simply hate both sides of the fence right now and a chance to actually vote for someone other than those two sits well with millions of people. Not to understate the battle he would have but I think it’s possible. At the least it will bring his ideas of liberty out to the mainstream.

Posted by LetsSaveUS | Report as abusive
 

Ron Paul does not advocate a flat tax.

Posted by twoturboz | Report as abusive
 

Doubt the press will ever take him seriously… If they did he’d be president.

Posted by BLSmith2112 | Report as abusive
 

In election year when doing what is prudent to stabilize our federal budget means little compared to the “electability” of a Republican candidate over Obama, we, as Americans, will suffer the consequences. Ron Paul is willing to buck the on going trend of inflating our deficit but he doesn’t have enough charisma, money, or media support to get elected.

When will we quit casting our votes based on what we “see” in the days ahead of an election and start doing a little homework before we head to the polls?

Posted by chancefavors... | Report as abusive
 

At this point of time all bets are on Obama getting re elected in 2012 unless soemthing drastic happens.
Another middle east war could trigger just that, defence spending would be sky rocketting sky high along with hike in oil prices, contrasted with a weak US$. a real catastrosphe for the marginal sign of recovery.
I think the the american think tanks knows this and thats why R.Paul has a distinct resonance with the american voters currently. R.P has stirred the minds of the american voters on war and excessive spending which needs to be stopped right away.
Let’s wait and see how this pans out, only mistake R.P made was not breaking from the pack and standing as an independant that would have assured him of giving Obama a tough ride. In any case R.P. will never make it as a President, no american past presidents have made it without the jewish blessings, and I don’t think R.P. ever will.

Posted by politicaljunkie | Report as abusive
 

Romney CAN NOT BEAT OBAMA … and the gangster GOP machine keeps trying to ignore him … WHY ? Paul can get many independents = and democrats to vote for him … Romney CAN NOT ! … Fox news is lousey and won’t even show ron Paul in the running … yet they show the bottom bunch of the GOP loosers … ????

Posted by logan1 | Report as abusive
 

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