With primary season only a few months away, the scattered Republican presidential field will likely soon be narrowed down. Although many candidates have gone up and down in the polls in the past few months, I predict that the race will come down to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Given the choice, conservatives have no choice but to support Paul over Romney.
As Brent Budowsky of The Hill argues, several candidates near the top will probably drop out early in 2012. Perry is fading, Cain is dealing with sexual harassment scandals, and Bachmann is mostly finished. Paul has a consistent and growing following that will likely continue to grow since many conservatives dislike many of Romney’s moderate and liberal positions. But even if Budowsky’s predictions are wrong, there are more substantive reasons why Paul’s popularity will continue rise.
Out of the GOP field, Paul is the only candidate who differs himself significantly from the rest of the pack. His “Restore America Plan” aims to cut $1 trillion from the federal budget in the first year, abolish five federal agencies, and balance the budget in three years. The rest of the GOP candidates make very minor, if any, suggestions at trimming a government that borrows over 43% of every dollar it spends. He wants to liberate the economy by letting the American people, not politicians, spend their money. Paul’s message should gain more conservative support if they truly value the limited and constitutional government that their rhetoric suggests.
Paul also stands out on foreign policy, where he offers a rational small government alternative to the big government empire favored by both parties. When it comes to Iran, Paul wisely seeks friendship, trade, and an end to threats and sanctions. The other GOP candidates, however, offer a dangerously confrontational stance towards Iran and in foreign affairs in general. Romney’s foreign policy advisors look eerily similar to the Bush administration's foreign policy advisor. Cain, Perry, Huntsman, Bachmann, Gingrich, and Santorum all want war with Iran (see each the hyperlink in each candidate's name for proof).
But according to a recent ABC News story, foreign policy experts agree with Paul on closing down bases in South Korea, Germany, and Japan; bringing our troops home; and having a non-interventionist foreign policy. Michael Scheaur, the former head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit, enthusiastically supports Paul’s foreign policy approach.
The flaws and similarities of the rest of the GOP field will eventually bring their candidacies down, and with notorious grassroots support, Paul is not going anywhere. This is why I believe that eventually the race will come down to Romney and Paul.
Romney may have the charm, the hair, and many large donors behind him, but his economic and foreign policies offer very little change from the interventionism of the Obama administration. Paul, on the other hand, wants to actually cut spending, lower taxes, and devolve and decentralize power. Conservatives really have very few reasons not to support him.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore