Doug Wead, a big figure among Evangelical conservatives and a former adviser to President George H.W. Bush, has a very interesting post up speculating about why Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee remained in the Republican race even after John McCain had become the presumptive nominee. Wead’s answer: they were building up their mailing lists:
And what will they do with [the lists]? They will raise money, of course. If Huckabee had had money this time, he would have arguably won South Carolina and the nomination. Governor Mike Huckabee, like him or not, is the future of the Evangelical wing of the Republican Party because he now has “the list.”
And whatever anyone says about Ron Paul, his so called “fringe,” is the only political movement left with a systematic argument for the role of government. He talks about strategic issues, while all the rest quibble over tactics. There is no question that the Paulists now have the intellectual and moral power.They are ignored or ridiculed because no one can answer their arguments. And those arguments, left unanswered, will only cause their movement to grow.
The mailing lists and fundraising, in turn, are a prelude to building a movement, just as the Goldwater campaign built the larger conservative movement and the Robertson ’88 campaign further institutionalized the religious Right, planting seeds that bore fruit in Christian Coalition victories in 1994.
Sometime, when all of this settles down, after McCain has not picked Mike Huckabee as his running mate, Huck will announce his Political Action Committee. We will hear a lot from Mike Huckabee next time around. His is a personal campaign.
And Ron Paul? His is a campaign of ideas. His enemies in the political arena and in the media will come to realize too late that they made a mistake by ignoring him this past election cycle. His army was left unchallenged on the battlefield. Now their ideas have taken root and they will grow. After the years of Obmamania are passed and Huckabee’s quixotic challenge four years later is exhausted, Ron Paul’s movement will still be maturing. Obama, Clinton, McCain and in four years, Huckabee, will own the headlines for now. But Ron Paul owns the future.
The next several years will be a very interesting time to be a conservative. I think we’ll see some shake-ups on the Right, and more creativity than we’ve seen since the heyday of the Goldwater movement. And as a Ron Paul fan (and former RP campaign blogger), I certainly agree with Wead’s conclusion.