- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2012

Rep. Ron Paul said Monday he will not compete in Republican primaries in any of the states that have not yet voted — essentially ending the 2012 primary season and leaving the path open for Mitt Romney to win the GOP presidential nomination.

Mr. Paul said he will still try to win over delegates in states where the voting is done but where state conventions are still picking representatives to the Republican nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., in August. But the Texas congressman and three-time presidential hopeful said he’s done actively trying to win over voters themselves in the 11 primaries still ahead.

“Moving forward, however, we will no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted,” Mr. Paul said in a statement from his campaign. “Doing so with any hope of success would take many tens of millions of dollars we simply do not have.”

That move leaves Mr. Romney as the only man actively seeking the Republican nomination, having outlasted a half-dozen opponents over the last four months of voting. The former Massachusetts governor is still shy of the number of delegates needed to win the nomination, but is expected to easily collect those in upcoming votes in Texas, California and nine other states still to hold primaries.

Mr. Romney’s campaign did not return a message seeking comment, but the push to win over Paul supporters is already under way in other circles. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary E. Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee, said he’ll pick up Mr. Paul’s torch heading into the election.

“You can’t suspend liberty,” said Mr. Johnson, who had initially tried to win the Republican nomination before dropping out to join the Libertarians. “The Ron Paul revolution must continue, whether he is actively campaigning or not. His message must be a part of the conversation leading to November.”

Mr. Paul is retiring at the end of this term in the House. But he has already bequeathed his political movement to his son, freshman Sen. Rand Paul, who rode voter dissatisfaction to victory in a Republican primary and then in the general election in Kentucky in 2010.

The 2012 campaign marked Mr. Paul’s third run for the White House, following a 1988 campaign as the Libertarian Party’s nominee and then his 2008 bid for the Republican nomination.

That unorthodox 2008 campaign rewrote the manual on Internet fundraising and attracted Americans who had been alienated by much of the political process but were attracted to Mr. Paul’s message of limited government bound more strictly to original constitutional intent.

His rallies attracted supporters dressed as Colonial soldiers, and “Don’t tread on me” flags became staples of his appearances, well before they would become a part of the anti-Washington tea party movement in the 2010 elections.

Ron Paul presaged the tea party movement, and many of his supporters fueled the tea party and its 2010 victories, not least that of his own son. That is one major impact. Another is Paul’s ability to attract young people, a feat few in the GOP have been able to duplicate in recent years,” said University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato.

Still, Mr. Sabato said, Mr. Paul’s stances on foreign policy and on drug legalization were unacceptable to too many Republican voters for him to have gone further within the party.

Mr. Paul briefly surged late last year, topping the polls in Iowa ahead of that state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. His third-place showing also seemed to leave him poised to make a run.

But that never materialized.

He ends his active campaigning without having won the popular vote in any state — though he did end up with the most bound delegates in Maine, thanks to his delegate-maximizing strategy.

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