Ron Paul Occludes

There’s a bit of a stir today over Ron Paul’s announcement that he will not actively campaign in the remaining GOP presidential primaries. Some people who are excessively hung up on formal candidacy status seem to think it’s only now time to declare Mitt Romney the “presumptive” GOP nominee. They are simultaneously overrating Paul’s significance in the runup to the convention and the change in the landscape represented by what might be called his “occlusion” from active campaigning. The latter isn’t terribly important because his minions will not only continue to vote for him without the presence of a visible primary campaign, and more to the point, they will continue to battle for delegates (some pledged to him, others pledged to Romney) at state conventions, where the Revolution has had by far its greatest success.

If you look at the remaining primaries (all the statewide caucuses have concluded), two (UT and NJ are winner-take all events, while a third (CA) is mostly winner-take-all by congressional district. A Paul campaign in these states would be a complete waste of time and money. Texas would also be expensive, and the others put together aren’t worth the trouble. Better to let the candidate rest up and figure out exactly what he wants to accomplish in Tampa, while his shock troops continue to cause havoc at poorly-attended delegate selection conventions hither and yon.

UPDATE: Dave Weigel makes the excellent additional point that writing off the primaries avoids the embarrassment to Sen. Rand Paul of a crushing Ron Paul defeat on May 22 in Kentucky.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.