Beware of Ron Paul was the word for Governor Romney from Newt Gingrich when the former speaker went on the Sean Hannity radio broadcast Monday. We caught up with it via ABC’s “The Note,” which quoted Mr. Gingrich as warning that the Republican Convention at Tampa could get out of hand. “I think the biggest danger in the short run is that they not think through how they’re going to handle the convention in Tampa, and how they’re going to handle the Ron Paul forces,” Mr. Gingrich said.
What Mr. Gingrich seems to be worried about is the delegates that Congressman Paul is winning through his strategy of dealing with state conventions. The former speaker had just come from the convention at Georgia, where, the Note quoted him as saying, the “‘Ron Paul people’ were out in force’” and predicting that even though, in the end, they lost Georgia, it had been touch and go and that, given their showing in other states, they’ll likely arrive at Tampa with a “pretty good contingent” and that Mr. Romney should think through “not how to pander to them.”
Hmmmm. Our own reading of the situation developing in respect of Ron Paul is that it’s not about the politics but about the principles. It was Speaker Gingrich himself who first emerged during the primary campaign as a supporter of Dr. Paul’s call for sound money based on gold. That happened in the South Carolina primary, which is the one that Mr. Gingrich won. It followed New Hampshire, which was the one where, under harsh questioning in the debate, Governor Romney gestured to Ron Paul and referred the whole show to “our constitutionalist.”
The way to deal with Ron Paul, in our view, is to pay attention to the principles. What does Governor Romney actually want to fold into his platform from, say, Austrian economics? It took a while, but Mr. Romney finally fell away from his support for the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. But has he called in, say, James Grant, the famed editor whom Dr. Paul wants for chairman of the Federal Reserve, and asked him what he ought to be doing about the Fed? If the New York Fed can invite Mr. Grant to lecture them as a critic, can the presumptive Republican nominee invite him in as a potential appointment?
What about Dr. Paul himself? He held one of the most marvelous posts in the United States Congress, chairman of the House subcommittee on monetary affairs. Yet he had almost no support from the rest of the committee. We once asked him why he didn’t hold a hearing on some point, and he replied that he couldn’t get a hearing room. Where is Governor Romney going to be for the visionaries in the GOP who are looking at the monetary question with an eye to getting America out ahead of the coming reform?
Then there’s the Free Competition in Currencies Act, one of Dr. Paul’s signature pieces of legislation. It would end legal tender, permit the private coinage of money and issuance of currency, so that the dollar would get some competition. No doubt it’s radical. But what about the underlying principles? Is Governor Romney prepared to engage on any of this? If not, where is the Ron Paul movement going to go? Our guess is that Mr. Romney will have a hard time winning the election without the slice of voters who have been inspired by Dr. Paul’s principled campaign, and the question is what substantively the Republican nominee-in-waiting is prepared to do about it.