By Brent Budowsky - 12/28/11 04:36 PM EST
As Iowa Republicans prepare to caucus, Ron Paul’s big moment has arrived
and will have a huge impact on the making of the president in 2012. In my view Paul is now the favorite to win the Iowa caucus. The final outcome of the 2012 election could be decided by a second Paul moment: whether he decides to run as an Independent candidate in November.
The immediate challenge for the Texas Republican will be to clearly enough denounce certain purveyors of the politics of bigotry and hate who have identified themselves with his campaign. If he does, I believe he will win the Iowa caucus with an outright majority of caucus-voters that will launch Paul to new heights — whether political insiders and media like it, or not.
Newt Gingrich’s recent comment that he would never vote for Paul against President Obama increases the chances that Paul runs as an Independent, and dramatizes the frenzy of GOP insiders towards the Paul campaign.
If the general election is between Obama and Mitt Romney, a Ron Paul third-party run would powerfully affect every aspect of the electoral numbers and policy narratives of the campaign. A presidential debate between Obama, Romney and Paul would be an entirely different event than a debate limited to Obama and Romney. The campaign would be an entirely different campaign.
In one sense Paul has already won the 2012 campaign. He has had more influence on policy debates than any other Republican candidate.
For the last year most major media players have given Paul the back of their hand, treating him as though he did not exist while obsessing on sideshow pseudo-front-runners such as Donald Trump and Herman Cain while Paul methodically built his campaign.
I would encourage interested parties to read my posts on The Hill’s Pundits Blog over the last six months discussing various aspects of Paul’s campaign, which I always asserted would be one of three finalists at the GOP convention.
Ron Paul will run stronger on Iowa’s caucus night than his increasingly strong polling. He has a devoted corps of followers. He has a very strong organization. He has a first-rate campaign staff. He has major support among young voters that does not fully reflect in polls, a network of supporters among military families and a strong social media campaign structure (which is not reflected in political coverage by media that is overly focused on cable television).
Media coverage of Paul’s campaign has been far too reliant on insiders talking to insiders about Ron Paul, while ignoring what Paul is saying to those who support him. This is why most media entirely missed the Ron Paul surge for many months.
On the plus side for Paul, he offers a pure change and protest vote that combines aspects of the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street and the Ross Perot campaign. He is an opponent of crony capitalism and large bailouts with far more consistency than other GOP candidates. He opposes unpopular foreign wars, central banks, foreign aid and Big Brother attacks against privacy and civil liberties.
In an election where other candidates are compared to Rorschach tests and weather vanes, Paul’s message is powerful stuff.
On the debit side Paul would abolish programs that create jobs and promote growth and would destroy federal efforts that combat crony capitalism and protect consumers. He would end foreign aid and security assistance programs, even with America’s closest allies, in ways almost all national security analysts agree would threaten our safety and security.
Paul’s big moment has arrived. He has a strong chance of winning the Iowa caucus. The political fate of the nation could well be decided by whether he runs as an Independent candidate in November 2012.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.