Larry Kudlow asks the most pertinent question about Ron Paul’s continuing efforts on the campaign trail after Mitt Romney has all but wrapped up the GOP nomination, which is what Paul hopes to accomplish by continuing to contest it. Paul says he’s not ready to follow Rick Santorum’s lead by endorsing Romney in the near future … and why should he? He’s raising money with a low burn rate, grabbing enough delegates to have the party establishment worried, and putting himself in position to force some policy changes in the party platform. Ron Paul is having the time of his life:
“Not soon,” he said on CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report.”
“I’m not thinking about that as much as what kind of presence we’ll have, how many people we’re going to have there, and what kind of an influence we can have on the platform in Tampa,” he added, noting that there were still plenty of delegates still up for grabs. “It may turn out that we may end up winning Iowa, and we’ve won a couple of these other states.”
Just how close to zero chance is it for Paul, anyway? Let’s assume that Paul can capture all of the delegates in caucus states, thanks to his organizational strength and ability to play the long game. Right now, Romney has 722 untouchable bound delegates from primary states, up through last night’s elections. He’ll get at least half of Indiana’s 46 delegates even if Paul can claw some from the caucus portion of the allocation, so bring that to 745 delegates. Romney should win all of the rest of the primaries by majorities, so California puts Romney over the top by June 5th no matter what happens. It’s over, and it’s been over since at least Santorum’s withdrawal.
But the endgame, as Kudlow puts it, hasn’t been the nomination anyway, at least not for Paul. He wants to influence policy in exactly the way he states in the interview, but more importantly, he wants his supporters holding the levers of power in local and state party organizations. That will make it much easier to move the GOP in his direction — and eventually give his son Rand a clear path to a presidential nomination. When he’s finished setting up his organization and generating as much in contributions as he can, he’ll give Romney his blessing in this election, because by then Romney’s win this year won’t matter to Paul.
Update: CNN asked Paul about rumors that his campaign planned to use its muscle on the delegate floor in Tampa to stage demonstrations against the Republican nominee, or at least the party establishment. Paul disavowed that intent:
COSTELLO: Santorum, Gingrich, Bachmann, Huntsman, Perry, Cain, they’ve all dropped out. Why haven’t you?
PAUL: Well, it certainly isn’t for the reason of disrupting a convention as you were alluding to. That is not in my plan. That is against my plan. I don’t like that being a suggestion.
I’m in it for very precise reasons to maximize our efforts to get as many delegates as we can. I’m still a candidate and to promote something that is very, very important. That is a change in the direction for the Republican Party to be a fiscal conservative Republican Party.
To not be a party that supports endless wars and a party that would look into the monetary system so that we can understand the business cycle.
So we have very precise goals and we are being quite successful in accumulating more and more votes and delegates. Quite frankly, I think the reports early on that we weren’t winning anything, it turns out we did win some of these states like in Maine and Minnesota and these other places. We’re doing quite well.
COSTELLO: I want to ask you about that, Congressman. Your supporters do seem to be taking a page from Evangelical Christian activists in the ’90s.
They’re taking control of state conventions to win you enough delegates to get your name placed formally in nomination. I mean, is the goal to get you a prime time speaking role at the Republican convention, is that why they’re working so hard?
PAUL: Well, being nominated is one thing and you get to give a speech, but that is different than just the leadership conceding sometime and giving you a speech. One is monitored and one is not.
So just to give a speech for the sake of giving a speech and have it edited doesn’t have much awe peel to me, but I think moving in an agenda is very important. The best way I can do that is to maximize is number of delegates that we have.
Say what you will, but my experience in Minnesota has been that Paul supporters have organized well enough that they don’t need to disrupt the proceedings. They’re making themselves the new establishment. They look disciplined and focused, so a pointless disruption on the floor of the convention in Tampa would be not just be out of character, it would mainly be self-defeating.