Although there is still speculation on whether Rep. Ron Paul will run for President in 2012 (Jim Antle had a recent article in the Guardian about this) this writer’s opinion is Paul will probably not run given his new committee chairmanship nor should he if his not willing sacrifice the time necessary to campaign in a GOP field once again made up of persons without day jobs (Romney, Palin, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Barbour). You cannot campaign for President on the weekends.
For Paul supporters, if he does not run, there are two potential candidates they would probably feel comfortable supporting: former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and current Indiana governor Mitch Daniels. However, neither Johnson or Daniels on their own could win the GOP nomination. So why not team up and win it together?
Of course they would have to figure out who would run for President and who would run as Vice-President, but announcing such a campaign pairing would not only be a big news splash for its uniqueness, it would also join together two wings of the party which need each other in order to hold back the neocons and the ideological flunkies of Conservative INC.: ordinary Main St. Republicans and the Paul-wing of the party which includes everyone and everything from paleos to libertarians to Greens and other independent sorts.
Daniels may not be popular with Right activists but that’s okay because they’ll splitting their votes into itsy-bitsy pieces anyway depending on how many candidates are in the field. The decisive votes in a Republican primary come your basic, Main St. Republican whether it be a businessman, a farmer, politically active housewife, the kinds of middle class persons who have been the backbone of the party for a long, long time. They are the kind of Republicans you find in a state like Indiana and Daniels popularity as governor is a sign he can be very strong with this group of voters, perhaps even rip them away from their standby candidate Mitt Romney. What Daniels lacks is an enthusiastic base of support. Sure, the pundits and the opinion writers have written glowing words about him, but they’re can’t organize Iowa or New Hampshire or Nevada or South Carolina for him. Johnson supporters could do this, however, if they team up together. Likewise, Johnson would certainly have support from the original Tea Partiers (as contrasted with post-Obama Inauguration types) but Johnson’s persona, the fact he comes from a small state and the fact he has taken controversial stands outside what would be considered the mainstream in Republican circles, would be a block on his campaign’s potential growth. But pairing up with Daniels would given Johnson Main St. credibility instead of being seen as an exotic, quirky candidate (as Paul was portrayed) on his own.
In fact I would say they are the perfect pairing: a Midwest Republican governor with inside ties who would get establishment backing if he was successful paired with a Western former governor more eclectic and more libertarian who could attract younger voters to the normal Republican base. The party could hardly go wrong with a ticket which a track record for sound fiscal policy and more personal freedom who both support a more “humble” foreign policy to quote Daniels’ former boss. It would be a ticket not tied down with interest group commitments which would make it attractive to independents. It’s a platform the party used to stand for and was successful with. Why not go back to it? Why not Two for America?