Okay sports fans, what was Governor Mike Huckabee and Congressman Ron Paul doing in the presidential race even after the verdict was clear that Senator John McCain had won the Republican nomination? Answer? They were collecting names and addresses.
Sure, everyone said John McCain had won but Huck kept acting dumb and saying, “Well, it isn’t over till it’s over and he hasn’t actually clinched it yet.” And that was all the rationale he needed to keep puttering along. There was one big southern state left, Texas, a state with a ton of evangelical, Southern Baptist voters and he had to keep the train going that long, if possible. And it was Ron Paul’s home state. By staying in the race both men were adding those Texas names and addresses to their data base for the future.
Well, you say, why didn’t candidates do that in the past? They tried. They have always tried. But not many candidates have a readymade, built in constituency. Ron Paul has a political movement going for himself. There has been nothing like it since Goldwater. And Huck is the only choice for Evangelicals who are spurned by media and other candidates.
In years past, on the Democrat side, Black candidates have stuck around long after they should have pulled out, just to collect names. There was a reason. And in 1988, Evangelical Pat Robertson kept hanging on in his effort to win the Republican nomination. He wanted to stay in the race at least through California, with its population of born again Christians in Orange County, but he couldn’t do it. The Robertson Campaign had virtually taken over the Arizona State Republican Party and would have likely produced an effective late ambush in that state but it was too far off. The nomination was decided early and Robertson’s persistence would have looked divisive and stubborn. The pressure was on. He dropped out.
This election cycle was different. So many primaries had been moved up, so early, including most of the voter rich states of the born again – conservative South, that both Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul were able to create a rationale to stay in and build a data base.
And what will they do with it? They will raise money, of course. If Huckabee had had money this time, he would have arguably won South Carolina and the nomination. Governor Mike Huckabee, like him or not, is the future of the Evangelical wing of the Republican Party because he now has “the list.”
And whatever anyone says about Ron Paul, his so called “fringe,” is the only political movement left with a systematic argument for the role of government. He talks about strategic issues, while all the rest quibble over tactics. There is no question that the Paulists now have the intellectual and moral power. They are ignored or ridiculed because no one can answer their arguments. And those arguments, left unanswered, will only cause their movement to grow.
Ironically, CNN, whose Wolf Blitzer- John King coverage was at times dead on accurate, and seemingly agenda free, was the only network to understand this. They created real diversity and brought on a Black evangelical pundit who offered more sense on Huckabee in five minutes, than all the other BAF (Born Again Free) networks had done in two years of reporting. But none of the networks did justice to Ron Paul simply because they couldn’t find anyone to argue against his positions. The public wanted data on the horse race, the issues be damned.
What’s next? Sometime, when all of this settles down, after McCain has not picked Mike Huckabee as his running mate, Huck will announce his Political Action Committee. We will hear a lot from Mike Huckabee next time around. His is a personal campaign.
And Ron Paul? His is a campaign of ideas. His enemies in the political arena and in the media will come to realize too late that they made a mistake by ignoring him this past election cycle. His army was left unchallenged on the battlefield. Now their ideas have taken root and they will grow. After the years of Obmamania are passed and Huckabee’s quixotic challenge four years later is exhausted, Ron Paul’s movement will still be maturing. Obama, Clinton, McCain and in four years, Huckabee, will own the headlines for now. But Ron Paul owns the future.