Ron Paul has a good shot to win in Iowa
Rep. Ron Paul rarely makes news, and his candidacy is frequently ignored by Beltway reporters. But headlines, his aides say, are overrated. In fact, the Texas Republican’s low-key autumn was strategic. As Paul’s competitors stumbled and sparred, he amassed a small fortune for his campaign and built a strong ground operation. And with January fast approaching, his team is ready to surprise the political world and sweep the Iowa caucuses.
“This was a movement when he first started running in 2008,” says Trygve Olson, a senior Paul adviser. “Now it’s turned into a highly professionalized campaign, but the energy from that last run is still there, and at the heart of what’s keeping up his momentum.”
The latest polls back up that confidence. In the influential Des Moines Register poll published over the weekend, Paul placed second. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, captured 25 percent of likely Iowa GOP voters, but Paul garnered 18 percent, two points ahead of Mitt Romney, who in 2008 placed second in the caucuses.
If Paul wins Iowa, the upset could upend what many politicos say is a two-man race between Gingrich and Romney. According to state GOP insiders, a Paul victory is a real possibility. In background conversations, many say Paul is much stronger than outside observers believe, with deep and wide support among a frustrated electorate. With Herman Cain’s departure from the race, operatives see Paul potentially collecting a quarter of caucus attendees.
“Ron Paul is definitely for real out here,” says Tim Albrecht, the communications director for Iowa governor Terry Branstad, who has not endorsed any GOP candidate. “He is going to get 18 percent in the caucuses no matter what. If there’s a snowstorm, he’ll probably win, since he has such dedicated, passionate supporters. The question is whether he can move higher than that.”
Of course, this has some in the GOP establishment nervous. For example, Rush Limbaugh exclaimed recently on influential show that “Ron Paul has nothing to do with the Tea Party.” That’s obviously disingenuous and dishonest, but Limbaugh is entitled to his opinion. While he isn’t perfect, there has been no one in Washington pushing substantial reductions in spending and cutting taxes more than Rep. Paul.
Keep in mind that the Tea Party movement has been — or at least was supposed to be — focused on solely fiscal issues and fighting corporatism. If Limbaugh’s beef is Paul’s views on foreign policy or libertarian stances on social issues, such as the war on drugs or opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA); then he should say that “Ron Paul has nothing to do with ‘traditional conservatism.’”
The Tea Party may have something in common with conservatives, and many conservatives may be part of the Tea Party; but the Tea Party movement in and of itself can and should be specific to fiscal issues.
And while some in the establishment are still trying to play him down, Paul is moving his very legitimate attacks on Gingrich into other primary states and trucking along.