Will Ron Paul be the next Republican presidential candidate to drop out of the race?
Unfortunately, Ron Paul Nation, it’s looking like that.
The libertarian’s recent primary showings and fundraising figures have been far from stellar, and Paul now looks like the shakiest candidate in the race. All other candidates — even the mostly down and out Newt Gingrich — still have something going for them.
Paul, of course, has yet to win a state primary. Yes, he “won” the popular vote in the Virgin Islands earlier this month, but all but one of the eight delegates in that race ended up choosing Team Romney. Paul had a disastrously performance in the recent Southern primaries, coming in dead last in Alabama and Mississippi. In Tuesday’s Illinois primary, the libertarian managed a lackluster third place finish.
The Texas congressman’s fundraising has also dipped bad, raising $1.5 million less in February than he raised in January. Paul’s Super PAC, Endorse Liberty, also saw fundraising plummet. The organization raised less than $282,500 in February — a far cry from the $2.4 million it raised the month before. Endorse Liberty’s ability to support Paul also cratered: The Super PAC spent under $136,000 last month, down from about $2.9 million in January.
In comparison, Gingrich (who is also a dead man walking in the GOP race) on Tuesday notched a $5.5 million life-line. Ouch, Ron Paul.
Paul currently is last in the delegate count. Before the Illinois primary, Romney led with 522 delegates, Rick Santorum had 253, Newt Gingrich had 135, and Paul trailed significantly with 50. Crushing.
So why is Paul still in this race? Some speculate that he’s only trying to influence the wider Republican dialogue, to help steer modern conservatism towards a more libertarian mindset. Some in Paul’s inner circle say that the congressman is hoping for a major cabinet or possible vice presidential position. Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign chairman, said in response to this sort of speculation: “It's something we'd like but it's not terribly important to us. We're looking potentially for Ron to be the vice presidential nominee ... we're not looking for easy concessions like a speaking slot." Bombshell.
I’m sure a big share of the fanatics that make up Ron Paul’s deeply committed grass roots base still think Paul can win the presidency.
The fact of the matter is that he can’t win the presidency. And will likely not get a VP spot (Tea Party Senator Marco Rubio would be a much better VP). And can leave the “influencing” to other up-and-coming libertarians, like his son, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
The truth is that Paul really has no reason to stay in this race and his situation in the contest is quickly becoming more and more precarious.
Expect Ron Paul to be the next to drop out of the race.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore