A new study of the GOP debates finds that Ron Paul has attacked all his Republican rivals save one: Mitt Romney. In no debate so far has Paul attacked Romney, but he’s gone after each of the other candidates. He’s also run ads attacking Romney’s rivals in states where Romney looked shaky. Why is this?
I don’t have a definite answer on this, of course, but it seems to me that Paul is attempting to subvert the playing field – divide and conquer by contrasting himself with the Not-Romney candidates rather than with Romney. Perhaps he assumes that people just know he’s 180 degrees the opposite of Romney and he wants voters to understand that in fact the others, like Santorum and Gingrich, are closer to Romney than they are to Paul when it comes to policy positions. At the same time he can force them to defend themselves against Romney and Paul, and not draw the ire of the Romney campaign. This leaves him on the offensive more and on the defensive less which costs less money and frees Paul up to keep getting his message out without having to deflect the big money that comes with any Romney attack.
In other words, Paul is killing at least two birds with one stone by pitting himself against nobody of consequence and distinguishing himself as the Not-Not-Not-Romney (or something) without risking any big Romney campaign backlash – yet.
It’s another example of Paul’s political acumen, and the cleverness of the people he’s surrounded himself with. A Paul victory may still be a long shot, but you have to admire the political maneuvering here. Of course, it may not be enough. If Paul helps knock out Santorum or Gingrich, it might make the remaining Not-Romney stronger, hurting Paul. We’ll see. I doubt very much that we’re looking at Paul position himself for a VP slot on the Romney ticket – as hilarious as that would be.
Also, does anybody else wish we’d gotten a chance to see Ron Paul debate Sarah Palin?