In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night, President Barack Obama discussed his record, the problems facing America today, and when it comes to GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, “It doesn’t really matter” who the GOP nominates. Obama is right that there is very little difference between Romney and Gingrich. But what the president failed to mention is that the only candidate that would seriously threaten Obama would be Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Paul is a threat not only because his economic ideas are antithetical to Obama’s, but because Paul’s fervent anti-war positions could also take away a significant amount of Democrat votes.
When it comes to the Republican front-runners, “The core philosophy that they’re expressing is the same,” the president said. “And the contrast in visions between where I want to take the country and … where they say they want to take the country is going to be stark.” But it’s this last point where Obama is wrong.
Obama’s health care reform bill was modeled after Romney’s Massachusetts own legislation. Gingrich expressed support for the individual health care mandate 15 years before Obama was elected. On the same day that Obama gave a speech memorializing Teddy Roosevelt’s progressivism and a “new nationalism,” Gingrich lavished praise on Roosevelt for essentially the same reasons in an interview with Glenn Beck. Besides the individual policies that all three of them have embraced at one time or another, when it comes to their overarching view of foreign and economic policy, all of them accept the premise that the federal government must be powerful and expensive, both at home and abroad.
It’s easy to see why the president isn’t scared of Gingrich or Romney; both of them offer a similar, slightly more right-wing version of Obama’s inflationary monetary policy, massive deficits, federal intrusion of civil liberties, and an imperial role for the U.S. military. Although these policies are embraced by the mainstream of both parties and have contributed heavily to an exploding national debt, a dying dollar, and economic stagnation, when faced with two candidates with eerily similar platforms, voters will likely choose the devil they know over a thrice-married “historian” or a flip-flopping governor.
Paul, on the other hand, offers a completely different philosophy than the president and the rest of the GOP field. For decades, Paul has been warning about the dangers of easy credit, policing the world, deficits, government spending, and government intervention into the marketplace. If elected, Paul plans to slash the deficit, balance the budget, cut taxes, establish a sound currency, and stop policing the world. In their endorsement of Paul, The Daily Iowan cites Paul’s consistency, record, and the fact that “the candidates who have a chance of winning the state often take stances that are not dissimilar to that of President Obama.”
This is why Paul represents the best challenger to Obama in 2012, both philosophically and practically. In a recent Iowa poll, Obama leads all GOP candidates except Paul. Real Clear Politics has him second only to Romney against Obama. In a key state like Florida, Obama has just a slight edge over Paul.
Paul is polling incredibly well against Obama considering how little coverage and debate time the media gives him. With more time and more scandals plaguing the other candidates, Paul’s appeal will only grow. After all, a growing majority of Americans want the U.S. out of Afghanistan and 64% feel that “big government is the biggest threat to the country.” Paul talks openly about ending both.
As I wrote in a previous PolicyMic article, conservatives who actually value limited government, personal liberty, and economic freedom have no choice but to support Paul over the Democrat-lites. And as Paul continues to gain support into the primaries, he remains the best, and most principled, challenger to Obama in 2012.
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