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Ron Paul might run again in 2012; should decide by mid-2009

Dave Weigel reports that Ron Paul’s grandson-in-law Jesse Benton says Paul “hasn’t closed out the idea of another run.”

“We have some time to decide whether he runs again, or whether he gets behind somebody else,” Benton said. “But we don’t have tons of time. By the middle of 2009, the decision needs to be made.”

In reference to the potential candidacy of libertarian Republican Gary Johnson, Benton said: “If he were to decide that he wanted to do that, he’d be a great guy to take the reins. But I don’t think that what Dr. Paul captured was 100 percent transferable to anyone else. I think the Bob Barr campaign assumed that and it didn’t pan out.”

Finally, would Paul consider running as a Libertarian (or Constitution Party) candidate in ’12?

“We try not to ever deal in absolutes in politics. But he would be very likely to be run as a Republican again.”

Read the full article at Reason.


  1. Trent Hill Trent Hill February 16, 2009

    Yea, that’s the least of Paul’s “public perception” issues. I love the man, and will work like a DOG for him if he runs again–but this wont even be brought up.

  2. Ross Levin Ross Levin February 16, 2009

    It could be a public perception issue, though, like it was for McCain.

  3. Michael Seebeck Michael Seebeck February 16, 2009

    max, at 72 now, Dr. Paul is in better health than probably almost all of us here. He is a fitness freak and a MD, after all. He bikes or swims miles daily. In his case, barring some traumatic disaster, I don’t really think his health is an issue.

  4. max max February 15, 2009

    at 77, Paul will be too old, 5 years older then McCain was this cycle. Paul should pass the torch to Gary Johnson or Mark Sanford.

  5. Trent Hill Trent Hill January 6, 2009

    Id pay money to see Johnson and Paul on the same stage–if only to see two (out of..what? 8) candidates denounce the war.

  6. Chad Chad January 5, 2009

    Oh, my other thought is this:

    I’m an optimist, but I don’t think 2012 is an exciting prospect as a chance at electoral victory per se. I think it’s more about speaking truth to power. If Paul, Johnson and Sanford all ran, you’d see a much more interesting debate than if it were all Giulianis or Romneys or Palins.

  7. Chad Chad January 5, 2009

    Cool discussion all! I’d love to see Ron Paul, Gary Johnson and Mark Sanford all running in 2012.

    For the record, I have huge hang-ups with Sanford, but he kicks so much but on economic policy and has been awesome on the REAL ID. He’d at least add a lot of legitimacy to some of the opinions that would otherwise just be the “libertarian” candidates in the GOP primary.

  8. HumbleTravis HumbleTravis November 17, 2008

    I agree that Cato sometimes publishes good things and Reason still has some good writers like Radley Balko. I just meant the big foundation money might not make it to Johnson.

  9. Trent Hill Trent Hill November 17, 2008

    CATO and Reason are pretty much the same thing. Made up of the same cross-polinated pond.

    As for David and Charles Koch—I dont agree with who the men donate to, but their organizations (ATR, Cato, Reason, etc) have done alot to convince people that less regulation, less taxes, and less government is good. That, at least, makes our jobs easier.

  10. HumbleTravis HumbleTravis November 17, 2008

    I think Reason readers might support Gary Johnson, but I am not so sure how many from the CATO establishment would.

    David Koch (former VP candidate of the Libertarian Party) donated thousands of dollars in the primaries to Mitt Romney and John McCain. His brother Charles Koch gave his money to Sam Brownback!

  11. Trent Hill Trent Hill November 17, 2008

    Interesting, neither candidate would suffer for lack of money—but either, or both, might suffer from lack of votes. Johnson would get support, including financial, from the Reason/Cato crowd. Paul from the Paulites.
    Still, It’d be interesting to watch 2 of the 10 candidates on the stage denounce the Drug War, 2 of the 10 candidates on the stage rail against the War. It wouldnt look “fringe”. It would look like “just another opinion”. If they both ran, i’d just be forced to support both. =)

  12. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli November 17, 2008

    Yes, exactly.

    And you should still implement that idea sometime.

  13. Michael Seebeck Michael Seebeck November 17, 2008

    A Paul and Johnson run would present an interesting strategy, since both of them could tag-team their opponents on the front end, and the psychology of that approach coupled with a gentlemen’s lay-off-the-other agreement could make for some great political theater.

    My wife and I discussed this strategy in a state legislature race, with us running against each other and creating an artificial tiff to generate primary publicity, but before we could implement it, we would up stuck in CA. The difference was that we would create some controversy in a clean way, where Paul and Johnson would just trash the other guys instead of each other. I just hope that whomever takes the mantle takes the gloves off more and becomes more aggressive than Paul was.

  14. Hugh Jass Hugh Jass November 15, 2008

    Coming Back to the LP,

    I wasn’t years off. I was referring to how the candidates would have done if they had run in that year for a second time.

  15. Coming Back to the LP Coming Back to the LP November 15, 2008

    Hugh Jass, your years are all off on your post.

    You need to recheck your data:

    72 Hospers
    76 MacBride
    80 Clark
    84 Bergland
    88 Paul
    92 Marrou
    96 Browne
    00 Browne
    04 Badnarik
    08 Barr

    I’d suggest no more “B” candidates for a while.

  16. Libertarian Joseph Libertarian Joseph November 15, 2008

    That’s one reason why they supported him so strongly.

  17. Libertarian Joseph Libertarian Joseph November 15, 2008


    Many Constitution Party potectionists [yeah, they’re all protectonists] believed that Ron Paul was a proponent of protectionism during the primaries due to his strong anti-NAFTA rhetoric and their ignorance on what free trade truly is.

  18. Libertarian Joseph Libertarian Joseph November 15, 2008

    Don’t bother, Ron Paul. You squandered every opportunity, you’re garbage. Go support your theocrats in the CP, you piece of shit.

  19. HumbleTravis HumbleTravis November 15, 2008

    I’d support Bob Barr over John Isakson any day of the week!

  20. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli November 15, 2008

    Perhaps. I haven’t heard what his plans are.

  21. Steven Druckenmiller Steven Druckenmiller November 15, 2008

    My understanding was that Barr was going to run a Senate campaign in 2012 in Georgia.

    Given the current press over that very race (although it would be against Isakson), it would seem to make sense.

  22. Hugh Jass Hugh Jass November 15, 2008

    Regarding Barr, I think I look at past LP history would be good. This is my knowledge of it:
    2008: Badnarik was planning on running, and could have won if he hadn’t run for Congress.
    2004: Harry Browne wasn’t going to be the nominee three times straight, nor would he have wanted to do so.
    2000: Harry Browne won the nomination easily despite constant attacks from Bumper and El Neil, with party infighting continuing after the nomination.
    1996: Don’t know anything about Andre Marrou.
    1992: Ron Paul formed an exploratory commitee for ’92 but entered the race.
    1988: Don’t know anything about Bergland
    1984: Party infighting prevented Clark from being able to successfully seek the nomination.
    1980: Don’t know anything about MacBride
    1976: Don’t know anything about Hospers

    So, while a few of them could have pulled it off if they didn’t make certain mistakes, only Harry Browne was able to actually do it. Right now, I’d say that Ruwart is the front-runner for the 2012 nomination, followed closely by Barr and then Knapp.

  23. chinese_conservative chinese_conservative November 15, 2008

    In politics nothing is final a candidate can say he wouldn’t run then ends up running. He can also say yes then cancel at the last minute. The point is in 2009 Ron Paul will not make his final decision.

  24. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli November 15, 2008

    I dunno, I think Barr blew it too bad managing his campaign. He got a lot more media coverage, but in every other measure he didn’t do particularly better than Badnarik cruising around the country in that beat-up car of his.

    Was Badnarik still doing that post-nomination? Either way, yes, I agree – the Barr campaign could have been a lot better. Bust that does not mean he can’t do better in four years. Both his message and strategy need a lot of work. He’s got time.

  25. Hugh Jass Hugh Jass November 14, 2008

    When he says that he will decide by mid-2009, does he mean that he will annouce his decision by then, or will he have just told his inner circle by then and make an official announcement after the midterms?

  26. richardwinger richardwinger November 14, 2008

    Barr did help build the Libertarian Party, in the legal arena. By winning two lawsuits on presidential substitution (when in the entire history of the US, there had only been one previous lawsuit on presidential substitution, the Libertarian victory against Florida in 1996) he has done something that will make ballot access significantly easier in the future. This will especially true if Massachusetts does appeal Barr v Galvin to the First Circuit and if Barr wins again. That will take care of the New Hampshire and Maine problem too.

  27. rdupuy rdupuy November 14, 2008

    I agree about 4 years being so far out in the future, we don’t know what the landscape will be like.

    Of course Barr is my early favorite. He has experience running, he is quite intelligent, and therefore I expect the second run to be more effective.

    I don’t suggest that Browne’s second run was more effective. However Browne got caught up in internal bickering on the 2nd run. Barr got caught up on it, in the first run…in my opinion bickering will be less, not greater, in the 2nd run.

    For several reasons, one he builds upon his base of support which is now larger than it was when he was an unknown, and secondly, I think he will be better at addressing the sensibilities of long time Libertarians as he continues to understand this group.

    But, he may not run, or someone even better may run, and I’d have to keep my options open a bit longer than this.

  28. JimDavidson JimDavidson November 14, 2008

    Not only are Ron’s supporters non-transferable, so is his health. He is way healthier today than John McCain. Which makes sense, given that Ron has a background as a medical doctor. Age was not the only relevant health issue with McCain.

    One could make a case that Nader has an addiction to running for president, or at least to the platform and money that comes with the campaign. If Ron were to run a second time, I don’t think that would exhibit addiction. I think he’d only do so if he thought it made sense in and of itself, though.

    It would be nice if the Campaign for Liberty were to represent a sort of consolidated “opposition party” program. Whether any candidate could bring that together as a fusion, I think is very doubtful. But Ron has a much better chance at it than many.

  29. Andy Craig Andy Craig November 14, 2008

    I dunno, I think Barr blew it too bad managing his campaign. He got a lot more media coverage, but in every other measure he didn’t do particularly better than Badnarik cruising around the country in that beat-up car of his. Barr didn’t run a Libertarian campaign, he ran an independent right-libertarian campaign that happened to be have been nominated by the LP. He did nothing to build, or even particularly work with, the party.

    That’s not really an ideological issue, either. I think Barr certainly falls within the acceptable broad libertarian coalition I think the LP should be.

  30. Andy Craig Andy Craig November 14, 2008

    I have to say, I like the idea of Paul running through Iowa or New Hampshire to rally his 2008 supporters while Johnson runs a more “mainstream”, broad-based, media-savvy campaign. After Iowa, the stronger (I’m guessing it would be Johnson) could drop out and endorse the other. In fact, if that does end up being the plan they should announce it publicly so as to avoid hostility between those who prefer one or the other.

  31. Eternaverse Eternaverse November 14, 2008

    What do you suggest we do, johncjackson?

  32. johncjackson johncjackson November 14, 2008

    It is past time for serious libertarians to abandon politics and look the real methods for destroying the State. Republican “libertarians” still support the most evil and dangerous things we should oppose.

    I am not yet 100% opposed to politics if it serves a greater purpose, but it is not worth spending so much time and energy worrying about it, especially the 2012 election. There are a lot of ways to do a lot of good things way before 2012, but people seem obsessed with the mostly useless POTUS elections.

  33. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli November 14, 2008

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Barr runs again, too. He has four more years to develop his libertarian ideology, and he seems to be moving in a more consistent libertarian direction over time.

    What I told Steve Gordon when we talked about it pre-nomination was that I thought it was too soon for Barr to run, that he should develop longer in the party first. I stick by that today, and think it was a mistake to give him the 2008 nomination; but I have an open mind if he runs for the nomination in 2012. He’s changed a lot in a similar timeframe before, and if he keeps heading in the same direction, might even make a great candidate four years from now.

  34. G.E. G.E. Post author | November 14, 2008

    Steven – Not a cult of personality (although some of his followers view him as a god) — it’s the unique combination of views and demeanor that Paul has and no one else can match.

    Since I have somehow been mentioned in this, let me present my own case for a comparison: I have almost the identical views of Ron Paul. However, I articulate my views in a much, much different way than Ron Paul.

    Take a look at Ron Paul’s constituencies:

    1) Pro-life crowd: I’m pr0-life, but as an atheist, I will not get their support.

    2) Protectionists: They support him in spite of his hardcore pro-free trade views because of “strong borders” and national sovereignty stuff. I don’t share those views, and thus I can’t win them.

    3) Libertarians: I’m too Ron Paulian for them (pro-life, federalist), in whom they overlook his “shortcomings” based on his many decades of pro-liberty spokesmanship.

  35. HumbleTravis HumbleTravis November 14, 2008

    One of the reasons that Ron Paul is so respected is because he has been defending constitutional principles for his entire career as a public servant. There is not another elected official in the United States who has sustained a career as long as he has while putting the constitution first.

    Ron Paul was able to attract people besides the usual paleo and libertarian crowd because of his position on the war. When people who were unfamiliar with him began to research his career they probably realized that while they disagree with him on the role of government, they admire his commitment to principles rather than politics. You cannot say the same thing about most politicians in general, let alone supposed proponents of personal freedom or antiwar advocates.

    There are many people who are saying similar things to Dr. Paul. Dave Brownlow, Adam Kokesh, BJ Lawson, are all great speakers. I would support any of these people in their future efforts, but at this early stage they do not have decades of experience and are easily drowned out by less consistent and more politically entrenched voices. This is why there probably will be no single “leader” of the movement following Dr. Paul: nobody else anywhere has his resume.

    Bob Barr had potential. Unfortunately Barr thought he was entitled to Dr. Paul’s voters in spite of his often timid defenses of similar ideas. Nobody in electoral politics is entitled to anything. Barr did not know anything about building a movement and in fact alienated many people within this group who were willing to give him a chance. For this reason he earned lower percentage of voters than Dr. Paul did in 1988.

  36. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli November 14, 2008


    Although, whatever the issues, the principles applied to solve them should remain.

  37. richardwinger richardwinger November 14, 2008

    Forget “Cult of personality” and consider a new disease called “Presidential Election Addiction”, in which victims cannot break the cycle of thinking about the next presidential election, even for one day out of the 1,461 days between presidential elections!!

    Seriously, the2012 issues are likely to be different in ways we can’t even imagine right now.

  38. Steven Druckenmiller Steven Druckenmiller November 14, 2008

    Mr. Hill, Jesse Benton said that what RP has done is non-transferable, which would make GE incapable of putting out the message (or at least, less effective).

    RP isn’t a showman, so I cannot assume that Mr. Benton is saying that RP presents “the message” uniquely.

    So, what’s left but to assume a cult of personality?

  39. citizen1 citizen1 November 14, 2008

    Ron Paul is a combination of the message and star power. Most inside the freedom movement, libertarians (capital or small l), and constitutionalists know who he is as well as many others. If someone truly wants to pick up his mantle they should start now building a national profile.

  40. Trent Hill Trent Hill November 14, 2008


    When did I say that? GE is capable of putting out Ron Paul’s message. But the unique coalition assembled by Ron Paul is a tough one to put together and is the result of being in Right-wing and Libertarian politics for 3 decades.

  41. Steven Druckenmiller Steven Druckenmiller November 14, 2008

    You’re making my point for me, Mr. Hill. If the only one capable of Ron Paul’s message is Ron Paul, that’s not really a message then, is it?

  42. Trent Hill Trent Hill November 14, 2008


    I dont think so. For example, Pat Buchanan in 1992 captured a very specific group of supporters…that no one could replicate.

  43. Steven Druckenmiller Steven Druckenmiller November 14, 2008

    Jesse Benton said, “I don’t think that what Dr. Paul captured was 100 percent transferable to anyone else.”

    Isn’t that the definition of a cult of personality, as opposed to a movement?

  44. HumbleTravis HumbleTravis November 14, 2008

    It would be an honor to vote for Dr. Paul if he decided to run again. I hope that this will also increase the number of like-minded people running for congress, governor, dog catcher etc. We do not need to find a single “heir” to Ron Paul, we need to (at the very least) have two or three vocal proponents for constitutionalism in each region of the country.

  45. G.E. G.E. Post author | November 14, 2008

    How about this scenario? Both run up through Iowa. The weaker campaign then drops out. Best case scenario: Ron Paul drops out but enthusiastically endorses Johnson. It could be assumed that Paul might be Johnson’s VP pick.

  46. RedPhillips RedPhillips November 14, 2008

    A poster at TPW said Reason fired Weigel. I guess that is not true.

  47. Fanta Fanta November 14, 2008

    I agree with whomever talked about age. In 2012 Ron Paul will be one the wrong side of 75 … if he served one full term as President he would leave office at age 81. With the flack John McCain got this year for being 71 could a 77 year old really have a chance in 4 years?

  48. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli November 14, 2008

    I’m with GE. Two different candidates making similar points makes it seem like more of a force or movement, less like a tiny sliver or personality cult. The candidates’ different styles would bring in different supporters as well. With some people, Ron Paul’s decades in Congress give him more legitimacy; with others, Johnson having been a Governor makes him more legitimate, whereas they would not consider a “mere” US rep.

    I think, at a much lower level, both Keaton and Knapp running in the LP makes sense for similar reasons.

  49. G.E. G.E. Post author | November 14, 2008

    Both should run in the run-up to the first primary.

  50. Trent Hill Trent Hill November 14, 2008

    I’d bet he wouldnt even CONSIDER running without first talking it over with Paul, if both are considering a run. They clearly both know that they are in the same pool of voters. Besides, running against Paul would mean possibly pissing off 1 million liberty voters.

    For now, Paul is the paterfamilias of the Liberty Movement, and that means if he runs–no one else will.

  51. Trent Hill Trent Hill November 14, 2008

    I’d bet Nader AND Paul run.

    I like Gary Johnson,but if Paul decides to run he’ll have no choice but to step aside and try again later.

  52. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli November 14, 2008

    He will be younger than Gravel was this year.

    I would not be surprised at all to see Nader, Paul or both run again.

  53. Trent Hill Trent Hill November 14, 2008

    DANGIT. You beat me.

  54. TheOriginalAndy TheOriginalAndy November 14, 2008

    Wow, I thought that Ron Paul would be too old to run in 2012 and that he’d retire. That would be great if he ran for President again, assuming that he’s in good enough health to make it on the campaign trail.

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