Opinion: Ron Paul makes his move

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Rep. Ron Paul, the oldest person remaining in the presidential race and the only one who’s also simultaneously running for Congress (you know, on the off chance he doesn’t reach the White House), came in second in the Montana Republican caucuses, right behind former Gov. Mitt Romney.

The 72-year-old onetime ob-gyn, who was the most successful fundraiser among all Republicans last quarter, got 25% of the GOP vote in Big Sky Country to Romney’s 38%. Paul also beat Sen. John McCain, who got only 22%, and Mike Huckabee, who trailed with 15%.

In North Dakota, Paul, with 21%, fell behind McCain, at 23%, and Romney, at 36%.

Elsewhere, Paul, a strict constitutionalist who opposes the Iraq war and in 1988 ran for....

president on the Libertarian ticket, slipped back to his familiar single-digit showings, despite the determined, earnest efforts of thousands of outspoken Ron Paul Revolutionaries, including an endorsement from THE Jane Roe, an eight-state ad campaign, not one but two appearances on Jay Leno’s show and stunts such as hiring a plane to circle downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday dragging a giant Ron Paul banner.

With incomplete results, Paul looked to finish in the Golden State with about 4% of the GOP vote, way behind Huckabee at 12%, Romney at 25% and McCain at 44%. Alaska, where Paul had thought he might do well, also turned out to be disappointing, as Romney easily won.


In West Virginia, Paul’s forces did gain three of the state’s 18 GOP convention delegates in a deal to throw in with the winning Huckabee supporters and deny Romney his expected win there.

In Maine, where the arcane uncommitted caucus system defies explanation, Paul forces finished third in voting recently but believe they will end up ahead of McCain in terms of state convention delegates and second only to Romney. Paul also finished second to Romney in the Nevada caucuses and ahead of the now departed Rudy Giuliani in Iowa.

In other Super Tuesday states, some with incomplete results, Paul’s showing was not so super. He finished last virtually everywhere -- with 8% in Colorado; 6% in New York and Tennessee; 5% in New Jersey, Arkansas and Illinois; 4% in Missouri and Arizona; and 3% in Oklahoma, Alabama, Massachusetts and Utah, though he beat Huckabee there.

Many in Paul’s dedicated legions of supporters profess incomprehension over how he does not attract wider support among voters. The only explanation they can imagine is that he would do much better in elections if it wasn’t for a mainstream media bias that forces supporters to conspire on the Internet, has barred him from a major New Hampshire debate and often eliminates him from regular candidate listings.

For instance, The Times’ recent tepid Editorial Board endorsement of John McCain in the California Republican primary discussed every remaining GOP candidate except Paul, who’s outlasted more famous competitors like Giuliani and Fred Thompson and is the only GOP candidate to increase his fundraising every quarter last year.

Many will now fill the comments section beneath this item with complaints about the mainstream media’s bias and little recognition that the words themselves in this item contradict that claim in this forum. And, of course, they are welcome, as always.

-- Andrew Malcolm