Paul could very well be the candidate who is left standing after the other two groups engage in ritual fratricide. (He could win New Hampshire this way.) The media appreciates his attention to racial inequality, his refreshing candor about his fellow candidates, and even his policy inconsistencies, which he’s not terribly concerned about resolving.

Or he could be a mere flavor of the month, buoyed by an early win or two in the primaries but never able to replicate the experience in later contests. He might never grow his base of support. His floor might be his ceiling.

So Paul has to work hard to discredit the other candidates. He has to convince Republicans who share his views on foreign policy — and many of them do — that he is electable, that he’s sincere andresponsible. He will be the race’s biggest bombthrower because he stands to benefit most from the carnage.  

Here’s where marijuana comes in. Well, not pot, really. But guns, freedom, get government off my back; with those mantras, he will appeal to western conservatives and rural Republicans who aren’t activists. He won’t get the NRA’s sole endorsement, but he might be able to get its members to campaign for him. And in smaller states, there might be enough libertarians on college campuses for him to pulse up his support at caucuses and conventions.