Tuesday, October 09, 2007


The Gospel of Paul (and Mike)

Some praise for Ron Paul from a relatively surprising source -- our friends at National Review Online, who have generally been pretty contemptuous of Paul's efforts.

Dave Kopel shares his experience with Paul at the Gun Rights Policy Conference:

Last Saturday night, at the buffet dinner and reception, the speaker was Ron Paul. The difference between Paul as a speaker in 1988 and in 2007 was startling. In 1988, he was perfectly competent. This time he was electrifying. In 1988, his campaign could do little more than leave some literature on a table. This time, he had volunteers to hand out literature, including (for the recipient audience) devastating material on Romney and Thompson. (Included among the materials distributed were Romney’s gubernatorial signing statement of the Massachusetts ban on so-called ““assault weapons,”“ and a copy of Sen. Russ Feingold’s letter to Senator Thompson after the passage of McCain-Feingold, with Feingold’s handwritten thanks, claiming that the bill never could have passed without Thompson’s help.)

Most impressive, however, was the large crowd of young people who showed up to hear Paul’s speech. They were enthused and energized, many of them sporting Ron Paul Revolution t-shirts. (The shirts are very clever, since they use “Revolution” to also say ““LOVE”,” which makes revolution seem a lot nicer.)

I did a lot of work in the Gary Hart campaign in 1983-84, while I was at the University of Michigan’s Law School. In terms of support from young volunteers, Paul is miles ahead of where Hart was before the Iowa caucus. After Hart finished second in Iowa, and then won New Hampshire, his campaign attracted a huge number of students, but not before. Paul, on the other hand, has what appears to be a staunch contingent of young supporters already.

The volunteers loved Paul’s speech, of course, and so did the large majority of the rest of the GRPC crowd. The GRPC activists are very wary of politicians whose pro-gun positions are a matter of convenience or calculation, rather than sincere dedication to the Constitution. The top tier of the Republican field obviously has a problem with candidates whose 2007 positions on guns or other issues are inconsistent with some of their past actions. You have to get down to Mike Huckabee before you can find a candidate who doesn’t have a consistency problem. (Huckabee’s record on the Second Amendment is perfect, and his statements clearly prove that he understands and believes in the issue, and isn’t just reciting platitudes and talking points.)
Kopel sounds like Huckabee is his second "favorite" among the GOP field. That's true for me as well.

Paul is doing better than Huckabee in fundraising (and, seemingly, in nationwide enthusiasm) -- but both are far behind the frontrunners in the polls.

Neither really has a chance of becoming the GOP nominee. Huckabee has a 50-50 chance of being the VP pick (greater if Giuliani is at the top of the ticket).

Still, today's debate, the first with the full, set-in-stone, GOP field may cause some movement. Huckabee
has crept up to third place in Iowa ahead of Giuliani and Paul's money can produce some ads that can resonate with independent-minded, gun-loving New Hampshire.

Stay tuned.

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