UPDATE: Hold on! Ron Paul did NOT quit the GOP presidential race
(UPDATE: Though Ron Paul stopped short of telling supporters in Texas Thursday night that he was quitting, his campaign website posted a statement overnight that he is indeed packing it in. "It is time now to take the energy this campaign has awakened and channel it into long-term efforts to take back our country," Paul said.)
Throughout yesterday afternoon and evening news reports flashed all over the Internet that Republican Rep. Ron Paul was going to officially end his hopeless presidential campaign.
ABC News said the campaign, "a pugnacious, ideological crusade against big government and interventionist leanings in the Republican party, will officially end Thursday at a rally outside the Texas GOP's convention."
A European wire service that we won't identify (we'll call it AFP) said: "Maverick Republican White House candidate Ron Paul, a rival to his party's presumptive nominee John McCain, announced late Thursday he is dropping out of the U.S. presidential race."
A certain Washington blog about the campaign Trail reported last night: "Texas Rep. Ron Paul is officially ending his presidential campaign." Even keen observer and enthusiastic Ron Paul supporter Lew Rockwell appeared to give up hope.
But just you wait one Texas minute! We know better than that here at The Ticket.
Once before, three months ago, Paul put out a video message to his hundreds of thousands of supporters saying he was "winding down" his campaign. And we fell for that one, hook, line and libertarian sinker. We wrote that the 72-year-old, 10-term congressman "appears to be....
... -- this is so hard to write -- if not quitting, then almost certainly sort of stopping his race for the Republican nomination for president. Probably."
But hundreds of Paul supporters -- see, we didn't call them longshot Paultards -- descended on The Ticket's comment area and informed us of the error of our words. That we were not only wrong but dead wrong. We didn't know anything. Neither did our parents. Or anyone at the leftist neocon L.A. Times, especially our editors. We kind of agreed with some of that.
They said Dr. Paul will never give up. And lo and behold, he didn't. The videotape was a trick. Paul kept campaigning and selling his new bestselling book all over while his operatives kept maneuvering at county and state GOP conventions to gain control of grass-roots operations and boost their delegates, which the Associated Press puts at 24.
Yes, yes, that's more than 1,000 short of ambushing McCain's nomination victory. But you see, we now understand, thanks to many instructive and yes, well, blunt and, OK, even crude comments, that the Ron Paul Revolution isn't really about winning, as strange as that may seem in normal political terms.
Nor is it about Paul, we've been taught.
It's about changing the long-term way Republicans think, away from being a political party that simply wears better suits than Democrats into one that truly believes in smaller government, less foreign intervention, canning the Federal Reserve and abandoning the United Nations.
Our perceptive Times colleague, Scott Martelle, knew that too as a loyal Ticket reader and guest blogger. In his news story for this website and today's print editions, Martelle notes astutely that Paul's rambling speech stopped short of actually saying he was quitting his campaign.
He talked instead about "shifting gears" and "a technical change" to launch a vigorous new effort, the Ron Paul Campaign for Liberty, using the nearly $5 million left from his successful $34.5-million presidential fund-raising effort over these last 17 months.
In the fourth quarter of 2007, Paul actually raised more money than millionaire Mitt Romney, who seems to print the stuff in the basement of one of his many homes.
True, Paul's old website carries an obviously counterfeit message claiming Paul is ending his presidential campaign. But that site has clearly been hijacked by neocons and other dastardly demons determined to undermine libertarian unity, to confuse Paul's 1,400 meet-up groups and to build that somehow subversive highway across Texas that could maybe undermine American sovereignty like a sinkhole and cause Canada to take over all 50 states. (57, if you're an Obama Democrat.)
First, if Paul officially quit the campaign, he'd lose control of his delegates under party rules, the one little pocket of power that might give him some leverage for platform phrasing or a speaking spot at the Republican National Convention in early September in St. Paul (no relation).
Second, if Paul was giving up like those better-known Republican wusses from Arkansas and Massachusetts, he would likely be endorsing McCain as a gesture of party unity, something that simply ain't gonna happen, if only because Paul opposes everything about the Iraq war, wants an immediate withdrawal and those resources spent on America's own pressing needs. Wait a minute, that sounds kind of, dare we say it, Democratic.
And fourthly, no thirdly, if Paul was really quitting, why would he also announce a parallel gathering of the Paul gang -- possibly 11,000 strong if they fill the Williams Arena in Minneapolis on Sept. 2 during the Republican convention across the Mississippi River?
He also wants to register by then 100,000 members of his new liberty campaign, which may not be too hard since he received 1.1 million votes during GOP primaries this election season.
Paul will have plenty of time to gather those new members at grocery stores and carpet outlets because he is unopposed in his House district for election to his 11th term on Nov. 4.
Texas Democrats may be divided over Hillary and Barack, but they're not dumb enough to challenge a septuagenarian former ob-gyn named Ron Paul, who acted worried this spring and only got 70% of the GOP primary vote.
In the end, whether one Ron Paul campaign stops or another begins may matter more to nonbelievers than to -- what shall we call them? -- Paulites, Paulers, Paulicans.
"We will be a permanent presence on the American political landscape," Paul vowed Thursday evening. "That I promise you. We're not about to let all this good work die."
And, by golly, The Ticket will be there too with full, often fair coverage.
Photo Credits: Associated Press / Jim Cole; RonPaul2008.com