Ron Paul: I won't spend any more money to contest primaries

He hasn’t suspended his campaign but he says he won’t spend any more money to contest the upcoming primaries with Romney, preferring instead to focus on electing Paul supporters as delegates to the convention so that they can influence the platform. BuzzFeed has his full statement but here’s the key bit:

Our campaign will continue to work in the state convention process. We will continue to take leadership positions, win delegates, and carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that Liberty is the way of the future.

Moving forward, however, we will no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted. Doing so with any hope of success would take many tens of millions of dollars we simply do not have. I encourage all supporters of Liberty to make sure you get to the polls and make your voices heard, particularly in the local, state, and Congressional elections, where so many defenders of Freedom are fighting and need your support.

I hope all supporters of Liberty will remain deeply involved – become delegates, win office, and take leadership positions. I will be right there with you. In the coming days, my campaign leadership will lay out to you our delegate strategy and what you can do to help, so please stay tuned.

Lest you’re inclined to interpret this as anything other than a concession, here’s what his heir apparent had to say last week:

“For all practical purposes, it is over. The numbers are there and Mitt Romney’s going to win the nomination,” Rand Paul said during an interview Thursday…

“I think he’ll be head and shoulders above [President Barack] Obama,” [Rand] Paul said. “Because [Romney has] sort of experienced the success of the American dream and President Obama is very much for deriding those who are successful and saying they’re not paying enough of their fair share, I think … the election in many ways will be about whether or not we still believe as a country … believe in economic mobility; whether we believe that our kids or ourselves could be successful and whether we want to divide up the shrinking pie and make things more fair or more egalitarian or whether or not we’re willing to accept that some people will make more money and by letting them make more money their success also creates more opportunity for the rest of us.”

There are only 11 primaries left and all but one — Utah, which was a lock for Romney from the start — will be held within the next 22 days. Why didn’t Paul hang in there and play out the string? I assume it’s because two of those 11 are Kentucky and Texas, the latter Paul’s home state and the former Rand’s. Santorum decided to quit before Pennsylvania to spare himself the bad press of a loss on his home field; Paul is taking a more middle-ground approach, trying to minimize the blow to Rand by declaring that he won’t contest those races but refusing to formally suspend so that his supporters still have reason to go to the polls and get him some delegates.

I go back and forth between thinking his campaign was a failure or a success. Last year it seemed like he might ride the big red tea-party wave from 2010 to a few primary upsets, especially given the base’s contempt for our likely nominee. Lots of things had broken in his favor since 2008: Debt and spending had moved to the top of the conservative agenda and four more years of war had made his dovishness far less of a liability on the right. Those upsets never happened but he did, I think, build on his 2008 effort to popularize the Paul brand. Four years ago, seeing isolationist libertarianism at the debates was a shock; this year, he was a familiar figure of whom everyone knew what to expect. Rand, of course, is the beneficiary, and he knows just what to do with his bequest. Re-read his solid pitch for Romney in the blockquote above. You won’t get that from his dad, who’s always been more of a “pox on both their houses” type vis-a-vis the major parites, but Rand’s positioning himself so that he was one foot in Paulworld and one in the mainstream of the GOP. If he can keep them there, he’ll be a player in 2016 or 2020.

Exit question: What exactly do the Paul delegates want from the GOP platform that won’t be in there anyway? I’m reasonably sure debt and spending will be covered regardless. Are we headed for a floor fight over … gay marriage? Man, that’s going to be some week of blogging.