Ron Paul and Third Parties Again

According to The Swamp, Ron Paul may be putting additional thought into a third party bid if he doesn’t do as well as he hopes in early voting states. After the fact, campaign spokesperson Jesse Benton applied the same follow-up spin we’ve been hearing for some time.

If he doesn’t do well in the early primaries, Paul said he would re-evaluate his Republican bid and the possibility of a third-party run depending on how he does in the contests on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5.

“With my staff I’ve never discussed it, but I sort of have that in my mind.”

Jesse Benton, Paul’s national spokesman, told the Tribune on Friday that Paul had misheard that final question.

“He got confused - the fault is with him,” Benton said.

“Ron has no plans or intentions to run as a third-party candidate.”

Eric Dondero is speculating that Paul may be more likely to run as a Constitution Party candidate than as a Libertarian Party candidate.

There’ve been major indications coming from the Constitution Party and an assortment of newly sprung up Constutionalist parties, in particular, that Paul is moving in that direction.

For instance, the Alabama Constitution Party just formally endorsed Ron Paul for President two days ago. A new group called the “Texas Independence Party” praised Ron Paul in their announcement of their formation and informed the TX Secretary of State that they will be petititioning for ballot status.

Still others, swear he’s planning to seek the Libertarian Party nomination. Yet, the indications are that an effort is under way to get LPers to support Paul, rather than him seeking their nomination. (We cannot disclose specific information that we are privvy too at this point on this front. Should be released within a day or two.)

I’d like to make several points at this time. First of all, Dondero is obviously no friend of Ron Paul, so I think most people will take what he has to say with a grain of salt. However, Dondero is good at keeping his ears to the ground and breaking stories of interest to the third party community before others do.

Dondero also brought up potential support from unnamed sources:

LR Blog is aware of much of the behind-the-scenes details of Ron Paul’s planned 3rd party effort, but is not prepared to release them as of this writing. But you all will be among the very first to know. Also, keep a watch on our sister site - The groundbreaking news may be released there, possibly on January 1 or 2.

ModernConservative also cites unnamed sources: has received a tip from a reliable source that may have election-shattering implications.

According to our source, an activist here in Arizona has been approached by the Ron Paul campaign; the campaign has requested that he run the Arizona effort to get Ron Paul on the general election ballot as a candidate of the Constitution Party.

Our source has requested anonymity, and we have agreed. We can, however, vouch for his/her reliability. Our source also provided us with details that added credibility to the account. (Unfortunately, disclosure of those details would put at risk our promise of anonymity. We apologize for the unnamed sourcing and lack of further details, but those were the requirements that accompanied this revelation.)

We will keep you apprised of any new developments.

My opinion is:

1) The Paul campaign wishes to be successful in Republican primaries and there has probably been no official contact between the campaign and any third party of the nature being discussed. While there surely has been contact between third party people and the campaign, I doubt the official campaign (unless it was a rogue staffer) has taken any step of the nature described.

2) I’ve been engaged in talks with people of various levels within the Libertarian Party about any potential Ron Paul LP bid. I’ve probably been approached (or called, in a few cases) by over one hundred people on this topic by now—some high level and some just curious. At no time has there been any push from the official campaign and at no time have party officials even stepped close to the gray line which would violate bylaws in these conversations. The general rule thumb is to wait until Super Tuesday results are in.

3) The Paul campaign staff has a decent representation from both parties. As one obvious example, Joe Seehusen and Debbie Hopper both serve as Deputy Campaign Managers. I consider a good handful of campaign staffers (as well as congressional staffers) personal friends. None of them have even approached me about this topic.

4) Paul has a significant amount of supporters in both the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party. The Libertarian Party is likely to obtain ballot access in more states than the Constitution Party. If the campaign was making some decision (or Ron Paul was thinking about it), they’d probably try to balance these issues so as to maximize any coalition effort.

5) Wearing my Libertarian Party hat, of course I’d love for Paul to choose the LP over the CP. Wearing my Ron Paul hat, my hope is that he does well enough in the GOP primaries/caucuses that such talk isn’t even necessary. Should it become necessary, the smartest move (wearing my Ron Paul hat again) the campaign could make is to obtain the nominations of as many parties as possible. In this case, Paul could go on the ballot on different parties in different states. The decision about which party line to use in each respective state should be based on ballot access, local supporters and issues, how well each party has performed in previous elections and simply the level of organization of the respective parties in each state.

6) In the case of the Libertarian Party, there is a complicated bylaws issue which may need to be resolved: “No affiliate party shall endorse any candidate who is a member of another party for public office in any partisan election.” This issue is likely to be resolved anyway, as this “old” wording doesn’t allow for the fusion campaigns which occur in several states these days.

7) Why would any group be petitioning for independent/third party ballot access in Texas (one of the tougher/more expensive states around) when the LP already has ballot access in Texas? Neither Ralph Nader, the Green Party or the Constitution Party were even able to get on the ballot in 2004, as I recall.

8) I’ve heard a lot of Ron Paul related third party rumors which I could have reported based on “unnamed sources,” but I haven’t. Most have already turned out to be untrue; some are merely the result of overzealousness on the part of some Ron Paul supporters. Some would make good blog fodder, but there would be no purpose in breaking confidentiality to disclose the information. It’s my guess that there is no significant substance to the internet rumors floating about today. Time will tell if I’m right or not.

36 Responses to “Ron Paul and Third Parties Again”

  1. Sean Scallon Says:

    If he doesn’t do well in the GOP primaries (getting votes single digits percentage wise), why would that necessarily translate to doing better as a nonmajor party candidate?

    Seeing if he can actually draw voters first before jumping off the non-major party cliff might be the most prudent course to take.

  2. Gene Trosper Says:

    I am ready and willing to support Ron Paul if he decides to seek the LP nomination, however, I think that it won’t need to happen as I foresee him garnering enough delegates to throw the GOP convention into a brokered convention.

  3. Doug Craig Says:

    How strong is the Constitution Party at the state level. Do they have any paid staff at any state level? How many elected people do they have? In Georgia I do not believe they have anything going on. Or they stronger in states where the LP is not.I believe we have the resorces to get on the ballot in 45-48 states. In georgia if he ran as a Constitution Party member he would need over 100,000 signatures. The local libertarians would not want to help get on the ballot because it would be to easy to lose our ballot acces. And the next time we will not have the resorces to gather the signatures without a Ron Paul type candidate.

  4. Richard Winger Says:

    There is only one state in which the Constitution Party is likely to be on the ballot, and the Libertarian Party is not. That is West Virginia.

  5. Chris Future Says:

    Let hope that a 3rd party bid is not necessary. The duopoly we currently have in place cannot be broken from without, only from within. We need libertarian policies from within the GOP or the Dems right now. The last semi-successful third party bid did not have legs. Unless we keep fighting within the system, I don’t see any real chance for change.

  6. Presidential Candidates Says:

    I agree with the above comment from Chris Future. I really think that the best chance of success for Ron Paul (and for all freedom loving Americans) is for Paul to win the GOP nomination.

  7. Thomas L. Knapp Says:


    You write:

    “If [Ron Paul] doesn’t do well in the GOP primaries (getting votes single digits percentage wise), why would that necessarily translate to doing better as a nonmajor party candidate?

    “Seeing if he can actually draw voters first before jumping off the non-major party cliff might be the most prudent course to take.”

    A lot depends on what you mean by “do well in the GOP primaries.” Paul could pull 20% of the vote in every state and he wouldn’t be the GOP nominee … but he’d be “doing well” in the sense that he’d be demonstrating a level of support that could affect the outcome of the general election if he ran third party, especially if he pulled well not just from the GOP but from elsewhere in the general election.

    To put it a different way Paul, and his supporters, seem to believe that if Paul is not the GOP nominee it really doesn’t matter that much which “major party figurehead” wins the general election … so in that event, the focus could switch toward away from winning this presidential election to building a long-term movement.

  8. TPW/CD Reader Says:

    Where does Paul have any association with the Constitution Party? I’ve never seen any evidence of it unless you count the support of CP’ers, like Baldwin and Peroutka.

    Has Paul ever spoken at CP conventions, meetings, or events?

  9. Robert Milnes Says:

    Richard Winger, thank you for that information that I already surmised. An endorsement of the LP ticket by the green party would get the LP on the West Virginia & Washington, DC ballots. I believe that would leave only Oklahoma. The LP/progressive alliance does not need Ron Paul-quite the contrary.

  10. brandon Says:

    This is propaganda to show that Dr. Paul doesn’t stand for what he believes. This is being set up so that people shouldn’t waste thier vote on someone that just jumps parties. Look he has never said he is going to switch party affiliations, this is a trick. This is why he is asked this question after every interview. Wake up!

  11. Eric Dondero Says:

    Ron Paul has had past associations with “Constitutionalist” Parties in the broad sense.

    For instance, in 1992 he heavily backed Pat Buchanan for President. Plus, for many years he’s warmed up to Howard Phillips and the Taxpayer’s Party. He also attended many Texas Independence events in the past.

    It’s accurate to say that he’s a part of the “Constititionalist” movement, but not necessarily the Party itself in its current form.

  12. Eric Dondero Says:

    Brandon, then how do you explain his comments to Tim Russert two weeks ago? And more recently, and more explicitly the comments to the Baltimore Sun (The Swamp)?

    Can you imagine a Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee or McCain saying, “Well, I have no intentions to run 3rd party…”?

    They’d say, “heck no! I’ll support the eventual GOP nominee.”

    Paul, on the other hand hedges.

  13. George Donnelly Says:

    > However, Dondero is good at keeping his ears to the ground and breaking stories of interest to the third party community before others do.

    No, it’s just idle speculation.

  14. Jay Matthews Says:

    “Can you imagine a Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee or McCain saying, “Well, I have no intentions to run 3rd party…”?” They’d say, “heck no! I’ll support the eventual GOP nominee.”

    Those three wouldn’t have a choice in the matter. None are a fit for the GP, LP, or CP.

  15. Rocketman Says:

    I don’t believe that Congressman Paul will run as a third party candidate because he has already stated that he wouldn’t and he’s nothing if not a man of his word. The smartest thing that Paul supporters could do in my opinion would be to notify the Republican Party that they intend to vote for the Republican candidate for President in the general election ONLY IF THE CANDIDATE IS PAUL. If a substantial number of Libertarian Party, Constitution Party and other party members did that and the GOP was convinced that they could win the presidential election only if Paul were the nominee then they would have more than sufficent reason to finally start supporting him.

  16. Jay Matthews Says:

    Correction, four.

  17. Gary Odom Says:

    To answer an earlier inquiry: Yes, Dr. Paul has spoken at CP related events. The most recent that I can think of was the Nevada IAP state convention in ‘06.

    Leadership in any party should be hesitant to attempt to speak for all members, and therefore you don’t see any official “endorsements” coming from the national Constitution Party for Ron Paul, but there should be no doubt whatsoever that Ron Paul is wildly popular among the ranks of the Constitution Party (both leadership and rank and file) and would be most welcome to seek our nomination. And if he seeks it, well, there ain’t no reasonable doubt who the nominee would be. And if that were to happen…the Constitution Party would become a major party almost overnight.

  18. Michael Says:

    Rep. Paul spoke at the Constitution Party founding convention in New Orleans (when it was the U.S. Taxpayers Party) in 1992.

  19. Fascist Nation Says:

    1. Ron Paul is 72. He won’t be running in four years. So if he is enjoying the campaign (and he clearly is) he may wish it to continue after Feb. 5. The question becomes how much can he continue?

    If he has even a single delegate, he has automatic access to the GOP convention in Sept. It may be at 3 in the morning, but he will have his day (as Buchanan would have had had he not jumped ship after winning New Hampshire). If the GOP candidates still have not gotten a clear winner he may stick around hoping for a brokered convention and the press attention that will continue all the way to Sept.

    If Fred is dead, and one of the others falters then a leader may emerge. A Bloomberg independent will also influence a decision to go third party. Unless Bloomberg would accept a VP slot on the Paul ticket…just threw that out there…Ron could use a billionaire VP candidate.

    2. A lot of libertarians (like me) who support Ron Paul’s run as a Republican would not be enthusiastic about him running on the LP ticket because he is not IMHO a good libertarian.

    His “throwing” the election to Hillary by splitting the GOP vote by going third party would effect his CONgressional future. He has spent his political career protecting his district. He would have to consider how his district would look at a third party run now.

    He would have to weigh how much exposure for his ideas he would get if he left the GOP race (remember Buchanan) versus the price the GOP would extract from him in CONgress. While his supporters would continue to grow (some would leave to support the Democrat) I expect the best he could hope for would be idling. Even if the MSM ignored him completely I suspect he would still have at worse the same relative support he has now…and that is better than any other candidate can boast.

    So will he? I don’t think so, but my political predictions have been notoriously wrong.

  20. Fascist Nation Says:

    My prediction (see above): As long as he is still gathering supporters, as long as he feels he is still getting his ideas exposure he will stay in the race. I suspect through the middle of March when most states will have had their elections. THis has never been about him winning, it has always been about the war, our civil liberties and the economy. Winning is just icing on the cake. At this point he will consider whether his run is over and it is time to get back to CONgress, whether he will have access at the convention, or whether he will continue his message in a third party.

  21. Andy Says:

    I don’t think that Ron Paul has officially been a member of the Constitution Party. He has spoken at some Constitution Party conventions though. Of course Ron Paul has also spoken at Libertarian Party conventions and is in fact still a Life Member of the Libertarian Party.

  22. Andy Says:

    Here’s a question for Eric Dondero.

    Just out of curiousity, what would be your nightmare scenario of candidates for President in November 2008?

    Such as, what if Mike Huckabee were the Republican nominee, Barrack Obama were the nominee for the Democrats, and Ron Paul ended up being the candidate for the Libertarian Party? Would you consider this to be the worst possible scenario for this election, or is there some other line up of candidates that you’d consider to be worse than this?

  23. Gene Berkman Says:

    Having a single delegate or a few delegates will not get Ron Paul any speaking time at the Republican National Convention. I believe the rules require delegates from 5 states in order to have a nominating speech.

    If a candidate going into the convention has the nomination locked up, the convention officials will require Ron Paul to endorse that candidate before he will be given any time to speak to the convention.

  24. Eric Dondero Says:

    Andy, you are so, so right. That is absolutely my nightmare scenario:

    Barack HUSSEIN Obama - Democrat Nominee

    Mike Huckabee - Republican Nominee

    Ron Paul - Libertarian Party Nominee

    It’s like the opposite of “fiscally conservative/socially tolerant” You’d have the Radical Muslim Socialist Obama, the Anti-Choice/Fiscal Liberal Huckabee, and the Islamo-Fascist coddling Ron Paul. Urgh! Makes me want to throw up just thinking of that possibility.

    Here’s my dream scenario:

    Democrat - Anybody but Obama

    Republican - Rudy Giuliani

    Libertarian - Wayne Root

    Also a good scenario to me would be:

    Democrat - ABO

    Republican - Mitt Romney

    Libertarian - Wayne Root

    BTW, I’m fine with Ron Paul running on the Constitution Party ticket. That’s where he belongs. I just don’t want the “libertarian” word associated with him. He’s a Leftist Populist. He hardly has any libertarian beliefs left.

  25. Eric Dondero Says:

    To the skeptics, if Ron Paul is not going 3rd party, then why would he not tell Tim Russert, and also the Baltimore Sun in that interview, “No, under no circumstances will I run 3rd party for President.”

    It’s a very simple thing to do.

    What would he gain by not making such a statement?

  26. Eric Dondero Says:

    Looks like no nightmare scenario for Dondero.

    If you all haven’t heard yet, Mike Huckabee just hours ago, had a huge campaign blunder. They’re comparing it to a Howard Dean moment.

    I won’t spoil it for you all. YouTube it, and see for yourself.

  27. Sean Scallon Says:

    The REAL nightmare scenario for Eric Rittberg is winding up in a Mexican prison and not knowing how he got there.

    As for RP’s non-major party possibilities (please everyone stop using “Third”), 4% in Iowa or New Hampshire does not translate to me a real desire out there for an independent bid RP. Obviously he’ll have to do better than that to have any credibility to mount such a campaign in the first place. And I doubt he’ll come hat in hand to the LP or CP conventions demanding their nominations.

    Let’s see how things play out, okay? he’s got a shot to finish in the top three in Iowa (and if don’t believe me please check out the blog Iowa Independent at and check out their GOP Caucus Power Rankings. In third is, you guessed it, Ron Paul) and if that happens then anything can happen.

    Mr. Miles I was going to respond to your previous post about why I don’t believe in a libertarian-progressive alliance? Because Dennis Kucinich, the “libertarian Democrat” is polling at 1% in Iowa. You can’t have a socialist-command economy along with cultural Marxism and have freedom for creativity and entrepenureship at the same time. It doesn’t work that way. Other than ACLU, how many other leftist groups are really that concerned about civil liberties, especially groups they don’t like? If said “Power to the People” to a liberal today they would say “grow up!”

  28. Robert B. Winn Says:

    You third party people have not fully considered what it means to be independent. Why would anyone want to be a party wannabe. As an actual independent voter, I can register as a candidate for President with the Federal Election Commission the same way George Washington did, without a vice-President running mate. Party wannabes have not yet seen what an advantage this gives the independent voter who is registered as a candidate for President.

    This splits the political party vote. Who will be vice-President if an independent voter is elected President?
    Well, obviously, the party vice-Presidential candidate who gets the most votes will become vice-President of the United States, since the independent voter elected President has no running mate. The duties of the vice-President are to preside over the Senate. John Nance Garner said that this job was not worth a bucket of warm spit. It should go to a political party candidate. So we will have an independent voter as President and a party politician in the vice-Presidency, even though that party’s Presidential candidate lost the election.
    Match that, political party wannabes.
    Actually, the Republican-Democrat Party started this anomaly by running two candidates for President in the election of 1800. Now that makes more sense. Abraham Lincoln was elected because the opposing party ran more than one candidate. Two Democrat candidates in 1860 seemed to have a good effect, until it resulted in party primaries and all the political party wannabes of today.
    A real independent runs without a running mate. This running mate thing has always seemed a little suspect to me. I would rather have a Political party vice-President who just tends to his job of presiding over the Senate, except in the case of an impeachment trial, when he would be replaced by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
    In any event, a political party wannabe candidate for vice-President will never defeat a political party vice-Presidential candidate because of the twelfth amendment to the Constitution. An independent vice-Presidential candidate running separate from all independent Presidential candidates could defeat a party vice-Presidential candidate, but there is no record I have seen of any independent voters running for vice-President outside of the party wannabe running mate method.

  29. disinter Says:

    I see Gordon is continuing his agenda to ensure Ron Paul loses at all costs… as if Ron Paul is going to turn into a complete idiot and waste valuable time (and his House seat) on a futile 3rd-party run…

  30. Eric Dondero Says:

    Disinter, Ron Paul did himself in when he refused to return that $500 check from Nazi leader Don Black, and when he dissed his own country for the attacks of 9/11.

    Ron Paul has a lot of baggage. His association with 3rd parties is among the least of his concerns.

  31. Cody Quirk Says:

    How strong is the Constitution Party at the state level.

    =Very good in the west, particularly in the Rocky Mountain states.

    Do they have any paid staff at any state level?


    How many elected people do they have?

    =Not counting Rick Jore, we currently got 15 local and county office holders, including the two people we recently elected in Michigan and Utah.

    In Georgia I do not believe they have anything going on.

    =IMO their state party is a joke.

    Or they stronger in states where the LP is not.

    =They dominate Nevada, and are strong in Utah.

    I believe we have the resorces to get on the ballot in 45-48 states. In georgia if he ran as a Constitution Party member he would need over 100,000 signatures. The local libertarians would not want to help get on the ballot because it would be to easy to lose our ballot acces. And the next time we will not have the resorces to gather the signatures without a Ron Paul type candidate.

    =Then he could try ‘write-in’ status in that state if the LP won’t help him.

  32. G.E. Says:

    There are major portions of the CP platform with which Ron Paul disagrees; most notably, there horribly mercantilist, Lincolnian views on trade.

  33. Cody Quirk Says:

    Yet Ron wouldn’t reject our endorsement if he ran as a independent.

  34. Bill Dodge Says:

    As an officer in the Constitution Party of Minnesota I will say that (if the Good Doctor doesn’t get the GOP nod) I would rather see him run and an Independent than either LP or CP. Not only would he then be keeping his promise to not run as a third-party candidate, but if he went with either the CP or the LP, there would be a number of members in the other party who would stop supporting him. This way he keeps support from both of these parties, as well as keeps his word. But this may all be simply unnecessary discussion, as hopefully he gets the GOP nomination and there’s finally a presidential candidate who honors the Constitution!

  35. G.E. Says:

    He has made no such promise, Bill!

    Cody - You are right. I’m not into the “the CPers are Nazis!” game anymore, but the principle remains: Just because they endorse Ron Paul does not mean he endorses them 100%. I think he endorses more than 50% of the CP platform, but on the issue of trade, he is 100% opposite.

  36. Cody Quirk Says:

    He’s spoken at many CP meetings before, guess the trade issue isn’t a problem.

    And I agree with you Bill.

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