Ron Paul’s Missed Chance Against McCain?

John McCain survived the New Hampshire primary thanks to receiving the support of the bulk of Republicans opposed to the Iraq war</a>.  McCain also did much better with the antiwar voters than other GOP candidates in the crucial Florida primary.

Ron Paul, who announced he was dropping out of the race last night, never made his opposition to the Iraq War the key theme of his own campaign.  (He did superbly when asked about this issue in debates or interviews, but most voters never saw the debates or interviews).

After McCain had emerged as a near-frontrunner before the Florida primary, a single 30-second ad highlighting his warmongering could have had a huge impact.  Even if the Paul campaign only paid to have it broadcst a single time, it would likely have gotten picked up and frequently rebroadcast as a new story (the same tactic other candidates used). 

Stressing an antiwar message probably would not have allowed Ron Paul to capture the GOP presidential nomination.   But educating voters about McCain’s record could have made all the difference.

Losing the antiwar vote to John McCain is like losing the chastity vote to Bill Clinton.

It is perplexing that a candidate who voted so courageously against the war in Congress would siderail this issue in his presidential campaign – and thereby possibly miss a chance to block the biggest GOP Senate warmonger from the nomination.


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21 Responses to Ron Paul’s Missed Chance Against McCain?

  1. Brian Wilson March 7, 2008 at 9:23 am #

    This is what happens when campaigns of any size are handled by fans, ideologues and/or amatures.

    The RP campaign personnel were all but totally unresponsive to virtual pleas from talk show hosts and pro-paul organizations – CPAC being the lone exception. With the reponse to his address to those folks, we could have rightlyt expected another “Sally Fields moment”.
    Alas – no.
    The tin ear of the RP campaign aperatus iunstead doomed the candidacy to a tragic “I could have been a contender”.

    It will be interesting to see if the same firestorm of interest in Freedom and Liberty can be ignited after 4 more years of socialist induction and Sam Francis’ “anarcho-tyranny”.

    Breath holding starts now…….

  2. Brian Wilson March 7, 2008 at 9:25 am #

    Apologeez four the tpysos.
    Using burrowed comfutre.

  3. W Baker March 7, 2008 at 9:54 am #


    As much as I admire Dr. Paul and what he stands for, his campaign was hopelessly amateurish. It started as an ad hoc affair and when it came into to some money, rather than hire some seasoned professionals – no matter what their stripe, it put out tv and radio ads which Alabama county-level politicians would steer clear of. And I’m trying to be kind.

    The New Hampshire ads were just gawd awful. It apparently never dawned on anyone in the campaign that the American people buy glitz and glamour. Substance is always a secondary consideration for the typical consumer.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s very encouraging that a great many people have now heard the ‘message of freedom’ through Paul’s campaign. Due to his lack of marketing, however, he was mainly preaching to the choir (or their friends and relatives). The unfortunate flip side is that there numbers of folks who are turned off the ‘message’ because of the poor packaging. Granted they aren’t the most substantive folks in the world; but everyone can’t be a political philosopher.

    If there is one truism about American politics, it is the single issue voter. Americans will stake their lives and their fortunes for their one, pet personal peeve. A good politician (con-man) will either help to create this single issue or inflame an existing issue.

    Paul did neither.

    His obvious passion is for the Constitution and economics. Fine and dandy. I don’t want to be unkind and burst any economists’ or historians’ balloons here, but those two subjects are not going to set the American political market on fire. They are absolutely essential topics, but they are secondary.

    Existentialist Americans react: they do not and will never cogitate.

  4. W Baker March 7, 2008 at 10:01 am #

    Sorry to repeat what Mr. Wilson said. I didn’t see any posts I when I started my harangue and then the phone rang! But I’m glad to see others agree.

  5. Jim March 7, 2008 at 10:38 am #

    Brian – Thanks for offering your personal experience dealing with the RP campaign.

    I look forward to hearing more about that on the show today at 5 pm.

  6. Jim March 7, 2008 at 10:40 am #

    Wes – thanks for the bullseye comments.

    I was very perplexed by the Ron Paul ads I saw and heard… Wondered how many other folks had a WTF??? reaction.

  7. Dirk W. Sabin March 7, 2008 at 10:44 am #

    Attacking the feral Bureaucracy in it’s lair is not something anybody could do with any kind of success. The sordid little threeway going on between the Government, the Media and the myriad special interests that make muy dinero off the political infrastructure are not about to let anybody intrude on their bait and switch operation.

    Paul could have run the best kind of DLC or Rovian Campaign and still, the carapace of conventional wisdom surrounding the syndicate occupying Foggy Bottom would have insured that he fail.

    It is going to take one, or both of two events to break the spell. First, the small government corps must work from the bottom up and in the event of the second event, what looks to be a nearly unavoidable crack-up , the local ground troops will be able to consolidate their efforts to insure that this weird hybrid of Federalism and Tammany Hall does not come back.

    These are big “ifs” and the only thing we have going for us, sadly, is the historical record regarding the self-destruction and self-abuse of every imperial project in history. The people of the lapsed republic are in for a rough ride . Lets hope that there is at least a small measure of wisdom left so that intelligent choices will be made on behalf of liberty and chaste government when the bitter medicine that we cannot now avoid confronts us.

    Personally, I’m an optimist but this optimism is tempered by what I see every day and so it is a reserved optimism . Mr. Paul and Mr. Obama, two voices with a common theme but with starkly different philosophy have demonstrated that there is a significant , growing and young movement to attack the Mistaken Washington Leviathan. What we all need to do is start pushing our agenda locally.

  8. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit March 7, 2008 at 11:16 am #

    I stood next to Brian, literally, during at one of the “tin ear” experiences and his description and analysis are spot on. It’s almost as though RP didn’t WANT to actually campaign or win.

    There’s nothing wrong with enthusiasm, per se, but there comes a time when you want to have “People Who Know What They’re Doing” doing the doing. 😀

  9. Clifton Rogers March 7, 2008 at 11:18 am #

    I am Clifton Rogers and I endorse Mr. Baker’s and Mr. Sabin’s comments…Well expressed!

  10. Clifton Rogers March 7, 2008 at 11:20 am #

    And I endorse Mr. Wilson’s view too! ALso well expressed.

  11. Clifton Rogers March 7, 2008 at 11:25 am #

    I talked to alot of people that Supported Ron Paul’s views but, when asked about voting for him, they said they probably wouldn’t because they didnt think he would survive the primaries and their vote would be scewed. It doesnt amaze me either that the number of people I talked to, in a one on one basis- or small groups, could agree with 99% of Ron Paul’s views but when it came to ‘stepping up to the plate’ they were scared to for fear of retribution…. WOW, I am not scared to stand up for what I believe in- what happend to these people?

  12. Clifton Rogers March 7, 2008 at 11:26 am #

    LawHobbit, by your comment, It makes me think about the Ross Perot campaign.

  13. Larry Ruane March 7, 2008 at 12:42 pm #

    Great comments. I’m wondering if the reason so many Republicans who oppose the war voted for McCain is because they heard a few sound bites of McCain criticizing the war. They didn’t notice that his criticism was that Bush is not fighting the war with enough brutality!

  14. Jim March 7, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    Larry, the media bias in favor of McCain was part of the reason why McCain could capture antiwar votes.

    But the Paul campaign did nothing to expose this scam.

  15. Adam S. March 7, 2008 at 5:35 pm #

    I think it is irrelevant what ever kind of grassroots support Ron Paul had. The fact is that the media did not and do not like the man. And if the media do not like you, you’re screwed. The real power brokers in today’s society are the academics, bureaucrats, and media types. Frank Chodorov, while often quoted as an anarchist, libertarian, conservative or the like, actually rejected all these labels and pointed out that all the major political movements out there (socialism, conservatism, liberalism, etc.) actually are vain pretensions. They all never actually deliver their goals except through perpetual servitude, or the apocalypse. A political theorist will have to do much better than what we are offered on the American spectrum. Even allowing for the excellence of the Paul campaign and Libertarian theory, the problems described are much deeper and span centuries. To truly tackle the things you describe would destroy the world as we know it.

  16. Adam S. March 7, 2008 at 5:48 pm #

    I wanted to add a postscript: conservatism is dead. Conservatism is what it has always been: the thoughtless reception of tradition and sloth in the face of life’s change. This is a movement that aims to repel the welfare state and replace it with the moralizing one. I believe that this dumpster baby of a movement should be sunk into its most unholy grave and paved over. And this is a larger sign of America’s decay and warping at the hands of the baby boomers. We will have no peace in this country until the last one retires or dies. As the Brothers Judd put it, “Every day is Vietnam, until the last Vet puts a stake through the heart of the last hippie” Jeff Riggenbach put it in a libertarian way, “every year is 1968” Conservatism, liberalism,socialism, and libertarianism are all dead. Thank God! WE can start over.

  17. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit March 7, 2008 at 6:05 pm #

    I notice that the “Ron Paul Giving Up/Suspending” story is getting more press time than he’s had all the previous year.

    He should have given up sooner!

  18. Tom Blanton March 7, 2008 at 8:47 pm #

    There are those who are conservatives that pose as libertarians and there are those who don’t know the difference between conservatives and libertarians. Ron Paul’s supporters included a large number of these folks. These people also have a knee-jerk aversion to to anything that might offend a conservative. I believe the anti-war issue was played down as this issue doesn’t play well with most conservatives.

    This same dynamic can be seen with the Libertarian candidate Wayne Allyn Root who was on Glenn Beck’s radio show today to talk about tax cuts, big government, and the threat of Islamofascism. Root, who wrote “The Millionaire Republican”, touted his Republican credentials and affirmed his dislike for liberal socialists (he didn’t comment on conservative socialists).

    The way things are going, I probably won’t go to the polls this November unless it is to encourage people to not vote. Is that considered political terrorism now?

  19. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit March 7, 2008 at 11:54 pm #

    See, any “libertarian” who talks about something as nonexistent as “Islamofascism” is clearly a poseur in my book and hasn’t a clue about actual liberty. I’d rather vote for an honest fascist like McCain, first.

  20. D. Saul Weiner March 8, 2008 at 11:27 am #

    Paul made 2 major mistakes in his campaign. First, trying to position himself as a “conservative Republican”. That may have worked 50 years ago, but nowadays what it (primarily) means to be a conservative Republican is to promote war and the police state. Second, the decision to run lame radio and TV ads instead of taking the hard-hitting approach he did during the debates, where he won his following. Surely it is better to go down swinging than to watch 3 fat pitches sail by.

  21. Bill Woolsey March 9, 2008 at 8:52 am #

    The “free media” received by the campaign all described Paul as an anti-war libertrian. With that “covered” for free, the paid media could focus on issues that were ignored by the mass media. For example, Paul’s views on immigration, the threat of the North American Union, etc. Certainly in South Carolina, and I suspect in other states as well, most of the paid media was direct mail postcards. They looked as good as what I received from Romney (and Huckabee and McCain were about the same too.) I did hear ads on rock radio stations that seemed aimed at the young, anti-war voter. We had very few TV ads in South Carolina. I understand they did more in New Hampshire.

    Anyway, apparently all of those mailings to long time Repubican primary voters did little good. Still, it was a sensible approach. (Immigration is an important issue and Paul’s position was probably “best” to win votes here. The North America Union stuff was counterproductive.)

    The free media gave a broad message that was unpopular witht the Republican base. Mailings to Republicans could counteract that, right?

    Well, in hindsight, perhaps it is obvious that it would never work and so those resources were wasted. TV and radio aimed at reinforcing the free media and getting the more of the independent, young, libertarian-oriented Paul voter would have been a better use of the funds.

    Now the next libertarian Republican candidate will know. On the other hand, it suggests that victory is going to be more difficult to acheive.