- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

* No, not Ron Paul, the 75-year-old congressman from Texas and grandfather of the tea party … Ron Paul’s ideas.

Donald Trump hit it right on the head at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference: “Ron Paul cannot get elected, I’m sorry to tell you. Sorry,” The Donald said to boos from Pauliacs.

“And you know what else? I like Ron Paul. I think he’s a good guy. But honestly he has just zero chance of getting elected. You have to win an election.”

Exactly right. You know who else can’t get elected? Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (not running); former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (not running), and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (running, but not for long). Oh, and Donald: you, too.

All five, though, share one trait: They’re each brilliant. Yet unlike the others, only Mr. Paul’s ideas will drive the 2012 campaign.

It has happened before — repeatedly, in fact — and will again this time around.

It goes back to 1992, when Pat Buchanan challenged George W. Bush in the GOP primary. Buchanan lost, but two years later his ideas drove the 1994 Republican Revolution that was embodied in the Contract with America and helped the GOP win the House and Senate.

Skipping ahead to 2004, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich ran in the Democratic primary on universal health care, anti-war, anti-torture and a more liberal platform than the rest of the field.

Mr. Kucinich lost, but two years later, running on many of his same stances, Democrats took control of Congress and in 2008 Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards all ran on his slate of issues — particularly universal health care. In short, there’s no question that Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign positions looked a lot more like Mr. Kucinich’s 2004 stances than candidate John F. Kerry’s 2004 stances.

Fast-forward again, this time to 2012. Mr. Paul, the clear outlier in the 2008 GOP field, again is pushing for limited government, establishing a gold standard, auditing the Federal Reserve, ending U.S. interventionism and enacting massive budget cuts across the federal government. All of his speeches point to the Constitution as America’s guide.

But this time, voters have caught up with him. In 2010, most of those ideas, with the exception of foreign policy, drove the tea party revolution. And now, there is no doubt that the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 will look a lot more like Ron Paul 2008 than Sen. John McCain 2008.

With the possible exception of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, no one wowed the conservatives at CPAC this year as much as Mr. Paul did. He did so with passages such as these:

• “We don’t need to just change the political parties, we need to change our philosophy about what this country is all about.”

• “Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country and giving it to the rich people of a poor country.”

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