Last night, Ron Paul had a particularly impressive debate. He wasn’t as long-winded as usual, he made at least one quip that had the audience laughing with him and not at him, and he spoke as well as usual about the need for sound fiscal policy. Perhaps his relaxed demeanor stemmed in part from the fact that he’s not putting too much effort into the Florida primary. Whatever the reason, his relative calmness in this debate was a welcome relief from the more strident tones he frequently sounds in these contests.
Nevertheless, his debate performance probably won’t translate into greater support in the Sunshine State. Folks 65 and older make up a larger share of Florida’s population than they do of the national population — and kids 18 and younger make up a smaller share of Florida’s population than they do of the national population. While Ron Paul himself falls into the first category, many of his supporters fall into the second category.
Furthermore, Paul is not only unlikely to do well in Florida: As in his last two bids for the presidency, he remains highly unlikely to actually capture the nomination. Yet, Paul remains unique among the remaining GOP candidates. He’s the spokesman for his own libertarian cause — and his supporters aren’t nearly as “transferable” as the other contenders’ fans are.
That fact has at least one prominent businessman speculating as to how to retain the support of Paulites if Ron Paul drops out of the race. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric and an open Mitt Romney supporter, wrote a column for Reuters in which he expressed the need to reach out to Ron Paul fans and also appeared on CNN’s “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien” to reiterate the points he made in that piece. Political Ticker reports:
“There can be no brush-off. No ‘Phew, he’s gone. Now let’s get down to business.’ No booby prize. Ron Paul needs to be given a role that really means something to him – a role with influence and voice,” Welch wrote in the column.
The former CEO suggested giving Paul whatever he wants, whether it’s a prominent role at the convention or an advisory position in a new administration.
“Like a business leader designing a severance package with a key player, the GOP leadership’s mindset must be: ‘When he walks out that door, Ron Paul is going to be a friend for life’,” he wrote.
Sitting by his side in the CNN interview on Friday, Suzy Welch added they know a thing or two about Paul supporters, as their four children are all fans of the congressman.
“If you let them go, they’re not going to go into the booth and they’re not going to pull the lever for whoever the nominee is,” she said. “If you alienate them…either they’ll stay home or they’ll work against you.”
Sarah Palin, too, has said the GOP needs to make room for Ron Paul followers. I agree with both Welch and Palin. Not only that, but I think the eventual GOP nominee needs to learn a crucial lesson from Ron Paul: Young people really don’t appreciate pandering and politicking. To capture the millennial vote, the GOP nominee will need to level with us about who he is and about the difficult economic realities that face the nation — and offer pragmatic solutions.