Ron Paul doesn’t like Rick Perry. And if Thursday’s debate is anything like the last two, you’ll hear about it tonight. At the first GOP debate to feature Perry, Paul pointed to the governor’s past as a Democrat and cited his support for Clinton-era efforts at healthcare reform. In an ad earlier this month, Paul’s campaign dredged up Perry’s 1988 support for Al Gore. “America must decide who to trust,” a voice in the ad proclaims, “Al Gore’s Texas cheerleader or the one who stood with Reagan.” And in an open letter to Perry, Paul’s campaign chair spelled out the line of criticism once more: “We don’t think the fact that you used to be a Democrat is the big problem here. The real problem is that, too often, you still act like one.”
For all Paul’s efforts, however, the criticism just hasn’t stuck. Indeed, if anything, Perry has garnered attention, both negative and positive, for the ways in which his criticisms of Medicare and Social Security—stated most clearly in his 2010 book Fed Up!—mirror those of his cranky rival from the right. And, in an ironic twist of fate, while Perry is reaping the benefits of such radical stances, Paul, their longtime proponent, is struggling to stay relevant. Despite his third place standing in most polls, Paul gets hardly any media attention. He has almost no friends in the GOP establishment. And when he ends his quixotic presidential bid, he plans to retire from Congress rather than run in his newly redrawn district, which state GOP legislators recently made much more difficult for him to hold onto. As Jason Stanford, a longtime Democratic campaign consultant in the state, puts it: “The paradox of Ron Paul is that he’s never been more influential or less popular in Texas.” What happened?
Tags: campaign consultant, gop debate, longtime proponent, state gop, texas cheerleader, twist of fate