As if my previous post about McCain's troubles is not enough, ABC News reports that long shot maverick Congressman Ron Paul has more campaign cash than McCain ($2.4 million to $2 million). By contrast, Guiliani has $18 million and Romney $12 million.
Paul is a contrarian candidate, an ideological paleolibertarian/paleoconservative Congressman and ex-Libertarian Party Presidential candidate back in 1988. Unlike the remaining Republican contenders, he is opposed to the Iraq War, the Administration’s interventionist foreign policy, a critic of “open borders” immigration, as well as an opponent of free trade agreements (although he claims to be in favor of free trade in principle). His views on immigration and trade probably put him further towards the producerist end (i.e., anti-free trade, anti-immigrant, and nationalist) of the libertarian spectrum (and closer to a paleoconservative worldview).
In essence, Paul is not far removed from the politics of Pat Buchanan, without Pat’s overt appeals to tribalism. This is what makes him an attractive candidate to those libertarians and conservatives who are critical of the Administration, especially on Iraq, and the policy predilections of the Republican Party over the last several years.
Of course, Paul’s campaign is going nowhere. That is not a knock on the Congressman from Texas. It is simply recognizing the reality of the Republican Party’s attitude on foreign policy issues which, while becoming increasingly critical of the current Administration, is hardly under threat of evolving from its neoconservative, Wilsonian interventionist inclinations over to the kind of pre-World War Two isolationism that defined the conservative movement before December 7, 1941. This is the same party whose candidates openly challenge the patriotism of Iraq War opponents and give standing ovations to people like Rudolph Guiliani when he claims the US needs to “finish the job” in Iraq and “everywhere in the world where terrorism persists.” Furthermore, Paul’s views on illegal immigration are hardly the exception amongst the major candidates (and Congressmen Tancredo and Hunter have made a career out of the issue).
It is a testament both to the dedication of Paul’s supporters, and the ineptitude of McCain’s fundraisers, for the Senator to fall this far behind. It will be interesting, also, to see what becomes of the Paul candidacy, whether it can gain some momentum and place in the early primaries. One of Paul’s weaknesses, other than his near-timid personality, is his lack of national name appeal. This was not a problem for Buchanan in the ‘92 and ‘96 primaries. It could be this will be the high end of his campaign, but it is a feat in itself that someone like Paul is even running (I recall how back in 1996 Buchanan was not even allowed to speak at the Republican Convention and was being openly compared to Charles Lindbergh by party insiders like William Bennett).