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Thoughts on a Romney-(Rand) Paul Ticket

Jim Antle considers the possibility of a Romney-(Rand) Paul ticket and concludes that it wouldn’t be a good idea:

At best, Paul could end up a vice president on the model of Al Gore: a trusted adviser of the president who is given wide latitude to pursue projects of mutual interest to the vice president and the administration. Alternatively, he could be dispatched to rally the Republican troops like Dan Quayle. Paul would be leaving a Senate seat from which he could check Romney’s interventionist inclinations in foreign policy and centrist tendencies domestically to take a job inside the Romney camp where he could be powerless to shape policy.

Sen. Paul has other reasons not to tie himself too closely to the 2012 Republican ticket. The future of the movement that his father has inspired depends in part on continued conservative dissatisfaction with the leadership of the Republican Party. Paul can’t very well tap into that dissatisfaction if he becomes an ally of Romney. More to the point, Paul’s fortunes as a future presidential candidate are inversely related to Romney’s fortunes as the presidential nominee this year. A Romney loss opens the door to a Paul candidacy in four or eight years, but a Romney victory most likely makes that impossible. If Paul were associated with Romney in victory, he would have minimal influence as Antle suggests, but he would also be perceived as having struck a deal with Romney for a mess of pottage. The support and goodwill he earned over the previous two election cycles would disappear.

If there were a Romney-Paul ticket and it then went on to lose, the lesson that many Republican political advisers would draw was that the Republican ticket was too conservative to be elected. The presidential ticket would have all the liabilities of its deeply flawed nominee, but the losing outcome would inevitably and implausibly be blamed on the running mate. Instead of a possible future presidential contender, Paul would be relegated to the ranks of losing VP nominees, and he would be in a much worse position to act as the leader of the movement his father started.

Of course, Paul is not going to be the VP nominee. If Romney were seriously considering him, it would provoke a rebellion by his advisers and many party and movement activists. That is one reason why Romney isn’t going to be seriously considering him. That’s good news for Paul and the policies he favors. Whether Romney wins or not, Paul can keep his distance and not be too closely associated with his campaign or his administration. He will be in a position to provide the conservative alternative to Romneyism in 2016 or 2020, or he can lead conservative opposition to a President Romney. Romney isn’t going to offer Paul the VP slot, but Paul shouldn’t take it even if he did.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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