Jesse Benton – nimble as ever – makes the case the media and Republican establishment won't:
Ron Paul has won more votes in Iowa and New Hampshire than any candidate but Mitt Romney. Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have been shown in national polls to be the only two candidates who can defeat Barack Obama. And Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are the only two candidates who can run a full, national campaign, competing in state after state over the coming weeks and months. Ron Paul's fundraising numbers — over $13 million this quarter — also prove he will be able to compete with Mitt Romney. No other candidate can do all of these things.
Ron Paul is clearly the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney as the campaign goes forward. We urge Ron Paul’s opponents who have been unsuccessfully trying to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney to unite by getting out of the race and uniting behind Paul’s candidacy.
One small thing yesterday worth noting. Paul aggressively defended Romney against the Bain attacks from Gingrich and Perry and the rest. Again, he put principle before short-term political gain, and revealed he isn't like other pols. He has character. Notice how his speeches almost never talk about himself, unlike the others. Gingrich rarely talks about anything without puffing himself up in some way. Mitt has the character of a private equity investor: a constant, reptilian assessment of self interest and opportunity. Beneath the sweater vests, Santorum is an angry, polarizing man. Perry is a bully and a bigot. Huntsman seems to me to have character too, and finally found his voice with his outburst at Romney Sunday morning defending putting his country before party. Too late, alas. But New Hamphirites get it: when asked to name the candidate with the most moral character, 40 percent chose Paul – more than Perry, Santorum and Gingrich combined.
Paul has the argument to counter Romney, especially on foreign policy. I suspect that, at some point down the line, it really will come down to Romney and Paul, simply because Paul has no incentive to quit, is in it for the message, and has enough of a money and organizational base to keep going.
Keep going, Ron. The debate matters.
(Photo: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), speaks to supporters at his primary night campaign rally on January 10, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire. According to early results, Paul finished second behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the first in the nation primary. By Andrew Burton/Getty Images.)