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Brian Doherty: The Ron Paul Moment - April 2012 Issue of Reason Mag

The Ron Paul Moment


Scenes from a shockingly successful presidential campaign

Brian Doherty from the April 2012 issue

“President Paul! President Paul! President Paul!”

That rhythmic chant, so unlikely even four years ago (let alone 24, when Ron Paul first ran for president, on the Libertarian Party ticket), vibrates through the tightly packed crowd of more than 1,000 supporters jammed into a Best Western conference room near the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire. It is the evening of January 10, and we are there to watch results come in for the first presidential primary of 2012. “I just had multiple Paulgasms,” a New Hampshire activist stage-whispers to me when the candidate wraps up his triumphant speech, equal parts rah-rah political red meat and professorial disquisition on monetary policy.

Ron Paul has not in fact become president. The Texas congressman hasn’t even come within 16 percentage points of the night’s winner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. But Paul did manage an unexpectedly strong second place, winning nearly 23 percent of the vote, despite poll averages the previous five days indicating less than 18 percent support. And by beating former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who had bet his entire campaign on New Hampshire, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who withdrew from the race after receiving less than 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, Paul swatted aside two more competitors in a primary season that had already claimed Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former Godfathers Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and various high-polling pretenders who never quite got in the ring.

“President Paul! President Paul! President Paul!”

The New Hampshire primary was a milestone on Paul’s five-year journey from obscure curiosity to the controversial conscience—and possible future—of the Republican Party. On the heels of getting 21 percent of the vote in a third-place Iowa caucus finish, Paul had now received more than twice as many votes during primary season as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (who had derided Paul as “outside the mainstream”) and could plausibly claim to be the most viable alternative to Romney, the GOP’s long-anointed front-runner. As of press time in late January, Paul is the only other candidate who definitely has the money, fund-raising ability, and nationwide infrastructure to keep competing against Romney until the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August...


With the evolving nature of Kochs suing their own CATO/Reason, who knows, maybe Brian will finally say enough and move to Auburn. One can hope; he truly is the only one I trust from anything Kochtopus.

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