Where the Heck is Ron Paul?

Where is Ron Paul?

More importantly, why amidst the clamor for Newt Gingrich to leave the race are there not similar calls for Ron Paul to bow out gracefully?

Ron Paul’s last campaign appearance was March 14th, the morning after the Alabama, Mississippi, and Hawaii primaries. With contests like Maryland and Washington DC looming in the next two weeks, states that are not winnable for Ron Paul but where he could reasonably hope for second place, why is he not out on the trail campaigning?

Perhaps Ron Paul has accepted the inevitability of Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee?

Or has he accepted the reality that after winning no contests during his 2008 or 2012 presidential campaigns, he is no longer relevant?

Ron Paul has managed seven second place finishes this campaign, all either in New England (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont) or in states bordering Canada (Minnesota, North Dakota, and Washington). The lone exception is Virginia where he placed second by virtue of being one of only two candidates on the ballot. In that case, second was also last.

Despite his inability to win any states, or even to collect significant delegates from being runner-up, Ron Paul is having a significant impact on the head-to-head battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

During the final Republican debate prior to the critical Michigan primary, Ron Paul launched a full frontal assault on Rick Santorum so calculated and effective it appeared it could have been scripted by the Mitt Romney campaign.

First, Ron Paul backed up his television ads by calling Rick Santorum a ‘fake’ to his face.

Paul then followed with an attack that made Rick Santorum defend his support of fellow Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, which Rick Santorum explained as “taking one for the team.”

With Mitt Romney painting Rick Santorum as a Washington insider throughout the campaign, acknowledging yourself as part of the “team” who will do what is best for your fellow Republican Senators instead of what you believe in played right into Romney’s argument.

Finally Ron Paul managed to push Rick Santorum into a lengthy defense of the earmarks Santorum procured during his time in the Senate. Rick Santorum’s efforts to explain his voting record again on these earmarks reinforced the Mitt Romney contention that Rick Santorum is a Washington insider, while also raising serious questions about whether Santorum is the true fiscal conservative he claims to be.

Worse, Santorum’s defense was heavy on explanations of Senate procedure and made him sound more like a Newt Gingrich-style policy wonk than the outsider he has fashioned himself to be.

This past weekend in Missouri, Ron Paul teamed with Mitt Romney to deny Rick Santorum delegates. By pooling votes in districts where Rick Santorum was leading, the combined Romney/Paul slate was able to win those districts and thus divide the delegates among themselves.

A good example would be Franklin County, which had 40 delegates to the state convention. It is a little confusing as these are not the same delegates as those who will vote for the Republican nomination at the convention in Tampa. These are among the 2,123 delegates to the Missouri state convention next month to select the 49 delegates who will represent Missouri and help choose a nominee in Tampa.

Rick Santorum would have won Franklin County and the 40 available delegates in a winner take all contest.  But instead, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney combined their votes in a unified ticket and took first place. They then divided the 40 delegates according to the vote percentages they each brought to the unified ticket, in this case 24 delegates for Ron Paul and 16 delegates for Mitt Romney. Santorum, despite the highest individual voter support, was shut-out of delegates.

I am sure Ron Paul has a good reason for assisting Mitt Romney this way? And I am sure that despite his string of last place finishes, Ron Paul has a good reason for staying in the race?

Perhaps if he ever decides to start campaigning again we will find out the answers to these questions.

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