Keep your Romney, give us Ron Paul !
The John McCain, eh sorry, the Mitt Romney campaign replayed a scene from past failed Republican candidates yesterday. They announced in the morning that Governor Romney would be the commencement speaker at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. The school founded, by Jerry Falwell, is touted as the largest Christian University in the world. And in the afternoon they announced that openly gay, Richard Grenell, would be Romney’s new national security and foreign policy spokesman.
Students at Liberty were in an uproar. Not over Grenell, but over the University choosing Romney instead of their beloved Ron Paul. The firestorm began on the University’s own website, where the thread hit 700 comments in a couple of hours. The discussion was promptly censored and then shut down proving that the University is not very aptly named. But the discussion moved onto Facebook where it continues to spread.
(You can also join the discussion here.) http://www.facebook.com/DougWeadOfficial
Ron Paul has a large support base on campuses in general, all campuses, Christian or otherwise. According to Braedon Wilkerson, Ron Paul district coordinator, he carried the city of Lynchburg by a 51-49% margin and the newly created Liberty University precinct 60-40%. “The campus and the city belong to Ron Paul.”
Maybe not. It turns out that the campus resides on the Carter Glass’ estate. This is the same Senator Glass of the famous Glass-Owen act which established the Federal Reserve. There is even a plaque erected to him on campus, honoring the central bank. Mark DeMoss, who is the evangelical liaison for Mitt Romney, is on the Liberty board of directors.
Meanwhile, the Richard Grenell appointment sparked a fury of emails from prominent Newt Gingrich evangelicals who see the betrayal of their movement as imminent. As a former congressman wrote to me, “once again evangelicals get hind tit (sic).”
Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer and “the Policy boys” of Family Research Council get most of the criticism.
A common suspicion of prominent evangelicals is that they sold the evangelical vote to Senator Rick Santorum in exchange for money to their nonprofit corporations even though Newt Gingrich was the more viable candidate. Indeed, the Iowa FRC leader Bob Vander Platts was reportedly asking Santorum for a million dollars. He eventually supported Santorum. Presumably, a national endorsement would be worth more.
A leader says, “They split the evangelical vote last time by dividing the Huckabee vote with Fred Thompson, giving us McCain as a result. ” And now the charge is that they have divided the vote again, giving Santorum a temporary boost, draining Gingrich, and giving Romney the nomination.
True to the 2008 cycle, Mitt Romney, like John McCain, refused to meet or seek evangelical support early enough. A visit to Liberty now, with the national elections only six months away shows very poor planning. The Romney evangelical meet and greets, which have to be done, should have been done a year ago, when he was planning the elevator for his car garage.
To announce it on the same day as the Richard Grenell announcement is a clumsy attempt to show respect to both the evangelical and gay communities. Instead it shows that the Romney campaign understands neither one.
Meanwhile, the Ron Paul campaign continues to chug along. The congressman raised almost as much money as Romney this quarter. He is the only candidate who beats Obama in the recent Rasmussen poll and his television commercials are on the air in Texas where lovers of liberty will appropriately make their last stand.
Correction: An earlier version of this post stated: ”Ron Paul visited the Liberty University campus in 2008 but he was very poorly treated. He was given a small venue which could not hold the crowd. When he moved outside to speak to the young people who had missed him, the campus police showed up and “escorted” him off campus.”
This was how it was related to me by a RP staffer who must have remembered it wrong. Several people have pointed out that this version is incorrect. That, in fact, he was given a large venue.
Thanks everybody, keep me honest. Here is one of the corrections:
I do have to make a correction to just one piece of this article. I was a State Coordinator for the Ron Paul 2008 campaign and a former Professor at Liberty University. I arranged Ron Paul’s visit to Liberty in 2008. The venue was the Vines Center, which seats c. 10,000. Ron Paul did not have a small venue and did not have to move outside (except to leave). The place was packed, although it was easy to observe that most of those in the audience of 10,000 had been “prepped” to view Ron Paul negatively. Nevertheless it was a polite “coldness”. The “prepping” of the audience beforehand (a couple of days prior I was advised), was the only negative treatment given to Ron Paul during his visit in 2008. I was quite aware that the “leadership” of Liberty University did not support Ron Paul or at least some of his ideas (divided as they were between Huckabee, McCain, and Romney). The only campus police I saw (and remember, I was with Rep. Paul the whole time) were those who escorted us into the Vines Center and then later out. I too am very disappointed to see Liberty University jump on this latest “mainstream Republican” bandwagon. And I am happy to see the tremendous support for Ron Paul today at Liberty University and in Lynchburg, Virginia (where I lived 24 years). I just wanted to correct the “urban legend” regarding his 2008 visit.
Kevin L. Clauson, M.A., J.D.
Former State Coordinator, Ron Paul 2008
Former Chair/Professor of Government, Liberty University (’85-’07)
Professor/Director, Center for Law & Public Policy, Bryan College