Unlike what has happened with other candidates with momentum this season, the media isn’t spinning the story of an on-the-rise Ron Paul. He unquestionably has the ability to fundraise whether or not he’s winning primaries. His dedicated mass of volunteer labor—and a professional operation competent enough to get him on all the ballots with a repeatable and strong get out the vote strategy—makes it likely that he’ll be the last non-Romney standing.
But what will he be able to do with this position? If the question of electability against Obama is ever dealt with using actual data rather than the oft-heard assertion “everyone knows there is no way Ron Paul could beat Obama,” the campaign could point out that Paul gets more independents than Obama right now in a one-to-one matchup, and that he’s in a statistical tie with the mighty Romney against Obama as well. And a small percentage of progressives who care about war and civil liberties above income redistribution might come Paul’s way against Obama as well, making him potentially stronger than any other Republican candidate.
Tuesday afternoon, an eager Paul sign-waver at a Manchester polling place first hipped me to a rumor: Romney might consider Rand Paul, junior senator from Kentucky and son of Ron, as a vice presidential pick in order to keep Paul’s coalition on board with the Republican Party. By Wednesday, Neil Cavuto was talking the same rumor on Fox News. A source close to Paul tells me he overheard, in a friendly-jokey colloquy between the Pauls and the Romneys at one of the weekend debates in New Hampshire, Romney saying it was now just all about whether it would be Romney-Paul or Paul-Romney. Romney and Paul have not abused each other much, and pundits have noticed how even a winning Romney will need Paul people in November.