Ron Paul's Role at the Republican National Convention -- If He Does Well

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Charles Krauthammer, writing in his Washington Post column, lauds what he considers to be Texas Rep. Ron Paul's "great achievement." That achievement was coming in third in Iowa and second in New Hampshire in polling well in subsequent primary states.

Krauthammer believes that even, as most expect, Paul does not win, he can make certain demands at the Republican National Convention.

What has Paul been able to accomplish?

According to RealClearPolitics, Paul took 21.4 percent of the vote in Iowa, behind Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, and 22.9 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, behind Romney. The latest Rasmussen Polls for South Carolina has Paul tied for third with Santorum at 16 percent, behind Romney and Newt Gingrich and fourth behind Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum at nine percent in Florida.

What can Paul demand if he has a good showing but fails in the nomination?

Paul can demand some influence in the party platform. This would likely involve calling for the elimination of some cabinet departments, not something that is outside the mainstream of Republican thought. There will be no give on foreign policy, however. Paul's views are considered isolationist, according to Conservative News and Views, and therefore not acceptable to most Republicans.

More ominously is the idea that Paul might demand and get a prime time speaking slot at the convention. The address would be lovingly covered by the media and would be used as proof that the Republican Party had become, if it had ever stopped being, a party of crazy extremists. Mother Jones, a far left magazine, recently offered what is considered the 15 "most extreme positions" of Ron Paul. This will be the case even if the nominee is the moderate Romney. Paul could very well give a great defense of libertarian ideas. But a single sound bite, say of his suggesting that it doesn't matter if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, would be all that would be remembered.

Has this sort of thing happened before?

Krauthammer points to Jesse Jackson in 1988 and Pat Buchanan in 1992 as extreme politicians who did well enough to make a splash at their respective party's conventions. Pat Buchanan's prime time speech, in which he talked about a "religious war" going on in the United States was seen as off putting to many moderate, independent voters. It may have contributed to the defeat of President George H. W. Bush for reelection that year.

What is the Bottom Line?

Whether Krauthammer's scenario plays out depends on how well Paul does in subsequent primary contests and how many delegates he racks up. If he fades in the stretch and fails to get a large enough number of delegates, then the eventual winner of the Republican nomination will not have to give him that prime time slot. On the other hand, if Paul hangs on and has a number of second and third place showing, he could become a problem for anyone who wants to win against President Obama.

Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network .

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