Hes out there somewhere. Somewhere, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is out there, talking up freedom and the Constitution, tut-tutting the state of the economy, taking aim at the Federal Reserve, inciting his fervent supporters to ... something.
But will that something ever amount to anything?
During the 2008 presidential campaign, no Republican had more enthusiastic supporters than Paul, the quirky libertarian who had been the Libertarian Party nominee for president back in 1988. When it became evident that Paul wouldnt be the GOP nominee and of course, that was evident to every Washington, D.C., wise guy from the very beginning his supporters more or less scattered.
Not into the wind, exactly, but in a thousand different directions, as befits a man whose own views are hard to pinpoint on any kind of ideological scale. Some worked for Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the eventual Republican nominee. Others launched quixotic bids of their own for public office. A few probably even worked for Democrat Barack Obama. And many no doubt chose to sit on the sidelines, throwing rhetorical spitballs wherever they could.
Spitballs may be effective in short spurts. But they dont win any long-term wars. Although Paul has lists with hundreds of thousands of supporters and runs a surprisingly diverse political operation, he has never tried to unleash the network in any kind of cohesive way.
Now, with the 2010 midterms under way, its time to ask whether he will be a factor and aid the Republicans cause. After all, Paul in theory commands an army thats substantially bigger than any kind of troops that Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Michael Steele or Dick Cheney can rustle up.
Jesse Benton, who runs Liberty PAC, Pauls political action committee, says yes, the Congressman has every intention of playing a big role in the 2010 campaign.
I dont know that well be working in tandem with Republican committees, but we will be quite active, Benton said.
Paul is expected to set up a campaign hell call Ten in 10. While he may personally endorse any number of candidates during the course of the cycle and in a few races, he already has hell invite candidates for all offices to seek special attention and assistance from his PAC.
Theyll be asked an array of questions in an endorsement process that
Benton describes as pretty organic. The one essential for any Liberty PAC endorsement: a commitment to support H.R. 1207, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, Pauls bill calling for a Government Accountability Office audit of the Fed in 2010. The bill had more than 175 co-sponsors as of late last week ideologically and alphabetically, from Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) to Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska).
But what then? Paul has a list of 500,000 microdonors. The PAC will urge Paul supporters to help the 10 designated candidates. And then? Well, its anybodys guess.