With a $5 million warchest, Ron Paul has the power to wreak havoc in the GOP field. But his spokesman tells the NYT today that the $1.1 million ad blitz he's launching in New Hampshire will be " geared toward introducing Mr. Paul to a greater audience — not to attacking fellow Republicans." I'm guessing the biggest sigh of relief comes from Rudy Giuliani, who's had the sharpest exchanges with Paul in the debates thus far. But have you noticed that ever since Paul started raising big bucks no one jumps down his throat anymore? --Michael Crowley
Marc Ambinder is right: I can imagine a lot of things crazier than an anti-war libertarian, who's now sitting on a fresh pile of cash, breaking into the top three in New Hampshire. Ron Paul is going to make that primary very interesting. Here's my thinking: It now looks like Romney, Giuliani, and McCain all have to do well in New Hampshire. McCain has to win to stay viable; Romney sort of has to win, but could probably fight on (at least to Michigan) if he finishes a respectable second; and Rudy needs a solid second. Paul seems like he could affect the race in two ways.
Dave Weigel, Reason's indefatigable political reporter, reveals the true extent of a) John McCain's decline and b) Ron Paul's rise. Texas's finest Congressman (despite his heresies) has more cash to spend than McCain. Does this make Paul a "first tier" candidate or is it time for the GOP to try and stop McCain form participating in debates too? --Alex Massie
Occasionally, the presidential primary debates serve as a forum for substantive exchanges on important issues. Most of the time, however, they feature rants and raves from the talented and crazy alike. Take this clip, for example, from the first Democratic debate, in which former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel harangues the top-tier candidates (and Joe Biden) about pre-emptive nuclear strikes: The key to winning the "debates" is not to present nuanced or reasonable arguments about policy. It's about getting in the best soundbite.
Ron Paul thinks Don't Ask, Don't tell is a "decent policy." I thought he was a libertarian. If it's about "individual rights," as Paul says, why can't "individual" gays serve? --James Kirchick
Andrew Sullivan links to a video from the Ron Paul campaign alleging that the Iraqi no-fly zones, and the stationing of American troops in Saudi Arabia, were responsible for anger in the Muslim world and, more gravely, September 11. The no-fly zones were imposed by the United States, Britain and France following the end of the first Gulf war. There is little question that had this coalition not enforced the northern no-fly zone, Saddam Hussein would have finished the job against the Kurds.
Ron Paul is becoming all the rage with isolationists on the far reaches of both left and right. And with good reason, because he is, after all, an isolationist of the Pat Buchanan variety. But it appears Paul might have some more in common with Pat Buchanan than just know-nothing America First-ism. Ryan Sager at the New York Sun points to what he calls "Ron Paul's race problem." Turns out the feisty Texas congressman has a rather troubling record of racism and anti-Semitism. Andrew, what say you? --James Kirchick
Doesn't sound like Ron Paul's foreign policy worldview is going to win over the Sean Hannity wing of the party. Fox questioner's surprising response: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attacks, sir? --Noam Scheiber P.S. Rudy, of course, seizes the moment with a 9/11 lecture. And brings the house down... P.P.S. How many isolationist Republicans out there secretly agree with Paul? I'd say a non-trivial number.
How is GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul like American Idol's Sanjaya Malakar? It's, um, not the hair. --Keelin McDonell