Like we didn’t see this coming: Ron Paul announced on Monday that he was suspending his campaign for president. Truth of the matter is we took Paul for one of the most crotchety and stubborn old men on the campaign trail, so we figured he’d continue gracing us with campaign ads like this one below:
Still, in and of itself this is no great surprise, he was no longer polling in double digits in most states, his campaign was low on cash, and Romney wasn’t even bothering to campaign against him, much less mention him. Nevertheless his campaign suspension does signal a sea change even in primary politics that the Republicans would do well to pay attention to.
Ron Paul was always a longshot to win the nomination because he was an ‘outsider’ – meaning that he didn’t openly pander and flip-flop to whatever the Republican base wanted. He was also … old, somewhat cantankerous and wore suits that always looked a couple of sizes too big or too small. The GOP wants clean cut and Presidential, not hermit-looking and ready to steal “Precious” away from Frodo Baggins. While some found this look authentic, others found it a sign that he was not ready for prime time.
But, regardless, one fact stood out throughout this campaign: Ron Paul had more enthusiastic support amongst his base than any other candidate save the first 15 minutes after Rick Perry announced. And like it or not, that is something that is sorely lacking in the presumptive GOP nominee’s base. One other takeaway: Paul produced better looking, more memorable online campaign ads with only a small warchest. That’s what a fanatical, youthful base gets you.
Surely, just by putting “Ron Paul” in the title line of this piece, the old man’s disciples, zealously trolling the web, are sure to find it and will, within moments, begin populating the comments section below. You have to ask yourself: does Mittens have that same kind of work-for-free movement enthusiasm behind him?
While things will be close, there is a decent chance that Obama, like most incumbents, will get re-elected this fall. And after that happens Republicans will have four more years to think long and hard about what they did right and wrong in the 2012 election and how the party needs to move forward both strategically and substantively. One thing they might want to look at is how the party managed to give the nomination to the candidate with the most money but the least amount of support. They might want to look at the fact that Obama hammered the GOP, again, amongst young voters or that the enthusiasm gap between the parties was sky high despite a recession.
To answer these questions they might want to take a look at the Ron Paul campaign.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.