The people’s hopeful president, perhaps, but not the party’s

2 March 2012

Written by: Erdem Koc

Republican presidential hopeful, Ron Paul, was greeted by a raucous ovation as he took to the stage during a campaign stop at Michigan State University on Monday.

When the initial round of cheering and applause from the some 3,700 in attendance faded away, the Texas congressman spent an hour working through his standard, libertarian-tinged talking points that have been heard throughout his campaign so far.

Paul emphasised all of his usual points: the federal government had grown too large and needed dismantling, the constitution and the ideals of the founding fathers were being forgotten, and that crippling debt brought about by foreign wars could be fatal to the United States.

He was scathing in his attack on his fellow Texan and former president, George W. Bush, stating that the administration had used the September 11 attacks as the public justification to ‘do the things they wanted to do all along’.

Ignoring any of Paul’s policy plans for the moment, it is difficult not to be captured by the seeming authenticity with which he speaks.

In contrast to the borderline ridiculous, caricature-like sentiment of some of the other candidates in the race, Paul is refreshingly real.

Rather than coming across as an out-of-touch multi-millionaire, pompous blowhard or religious sensationalist, Paul seems more like the old man who lives next door.

Sure, he might get a little cantankerous at times and not throw the ball back into your yard, but overall he comes across as a decent guy.

The turnout at his campaign stops is indicative of his ability to relate with the public better than some of his fellow candidates.

In recent times, frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have attracted hundreds of supporters to their campaign stops, whereas Paul draws thousands to his rallies.

This begs the question: if Ron Paul can seemingly have such an overwhelming lead in the race for the hearts of the public, why is he such a drastic outsider in the quest for nomination?

As of April 2011, Paul was seen as one of the preferred Republican candidates, based on his strong showings in early straw polls.

However, since his strong start, Paul’s numbers have yo-yoed throughout the primary stages. After finishing second and third respectively in New Hampshire and Iowa, his support then seemed to dwindle even as potential candidates fell by the wayside.

Paul did however rebound in Minnesota, claiming 27% of the vote, finishing second behind Santorum.

For all his seeming public support, Paul still lacks the endorsement of predominant Republican power brokers.

Mitt Romney has received the backing of former president George H. Bush, one-time opponents for 2012 in Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty and Thaddeus McCotter, plus a raft of senators, congressmen, governors and other state officials.

Paul has not.

Supporters at Paul’s rally on Monday chanted ‘President Paul’ throughout his speech. And although the argument could be made that Paul is the candidate that large portions of the Republican people want, the absence of backing from his party tells us that he is not the candidate the Republican Party wants.

Liam Quinn is a second-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University.  He is currently on exchange at Michigan State University, and is covering the 2012 US presidential elections for upstart.  You can follow him on Twitter: @liamquinn23