Tuesday, November 06, 2007


When I'm reading that Ron Paul raised $.2 million in one day (using a Guy Fawkes Day-themed viral marketing campaign), I find myself wishing that pollsters would start polling a three-way race -- Clinton, Giuliani, and Ron Paul. (Or Clinton/Romney/Paul, or substitute the Democrat and Republican of your choice.)

Paul has dropped subtle hints that he might run independently. Arguably, he could be the religious right's candidate if Giuliani is the nominee -- but I think his antiwar stand makes that highly unlikely. (The old-school fundie leaders love the war.) He could run in addition to a religious right candidate -- but I suspect James Dobson and whatever allies he has are looking at the new CNN poll, in which a 6-point Clinton lead over Giuliani balloons to 16 points when an (unnamed) anti-abortion candidate is thrown into the mix, and are realizing how much harm they'd do to the right wing if they split its vote. So I think a Ron Paul third-party run is more likely than a run by a Dobsonite.

Of course, Paul probably wouldn't poll now the way he'll poll next November if he runs. Not only will he greatly outspent, he'll be framed negatively by whichever major-party candidate fears him more (or maybe by both candidates -- although would being shot by both sides increase his appeal in these throw-the-bums-out times?). I think Hillary Clinton has more to fear from his candidacy than any Republican. Will she be able to persuade liberal antiwar voters that he's really a pre-modern right-wing nut? It shouldn't be that hard, though with Democrats you never know. (Republicans might actually have a harder time preventing defections, though their framing skills are more highly developed.)

The same goes for Mike Bloomberg, by the way, in the unlikely event that he runs -- Republicans would have a vested interest into dissuading right-leaners from defecting to him, so they'd paint him as a liberal, and he might hurt Democrats more as a result, despite what polls said a few months ago.

Oh, but if Ron Paul runs, will Nader stay out? Damn, this year is complicated. I think Nader will absolutely run if Hillary's the Democratic nominee (he's all but promised to do so, since he harbors a Hitchens/Dowd/Noonan-level hatred for the Clintons). Paul would seem to be 180 degrees apart from Nader on many issues, but I think Ralph is loopy enough to overlook the fact that libertarianism and anti-fat-cat-ism are, well, diametrically opposed. So he might give Paul his blessing. Otherwise, they may both run.

The GOP is going to try to send a message to antiwar voters that Hillary would be "Bush Lite" in foreign policy -- yes, even while warning that a Clinton win will lead to surrender and mass forced conversions to Wahhabism. Thus, last month we had this from a right-wing journalist and GOP apparatchik named Bill Sammon:

A senior White House official said the administration did not put much stock in pledges by Democratic presidential candidates to swiftly end the Iraq war if elected....

"... there is a recognition by most of them that there has to be a long-term presence by the United States if we hope to avoid America being brought back into the region in a very precarious way, at a point where all-out resources are required."

...So far, Bush has been encouraged by the fact that Democratic candidates are preserving enough wiggle room in their anti-war rhetoric to enable them to keep at least some troops in Iraq.

"If you listen carefully, there are Democrats that say, 'Well, there needs to be some kind of presence,'" Bush said....

(The leading Democrats essentially confirmed this at a subsequent debate.)

The Republicans will work hard to get that "Bush Lite" message across, while also hitting the opposite message hard. If the former message gets heard, Paul (and/or Nader) could hurt Hillary the way Nader hurt Gore.

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