MANCHESTER, N.H. — Almost to a person, grass-roots supporters of Ron Paul in New Hampshire would support the Texas congressman if he decides to abandon the Republican presidential race and run in the fall as a Libertarian or independent.
This is an important phenomenon to watch as the race unfolds. The degree to which Ron Paul supporters keep marching behind him no matter how much he is eclipsed by a more likely nominee, raises a danger for the Republican Party in the general election. If Paul leads a faithful breakaway faction, the party vote will be diminished, and President Obama will benefit.
Passion for Paul was palpable among his New Hampshire supporters.
Engineer Marc Snyder, who held up a Paul placard outside a polling place in Merrimack, said he “would like to see Dr. Paul on the [general election] ballot in any capacity.” Snyder, who lost a primary challenge to GOP Sen. Sheila Roberge in ’06, said that party affiliation meant nothing to him and that he was for Paul because “he is the only candidate who represents real change.”
Snyder pointed to the fact that “Dr. Paul is the first candidate to address the Federal Reserve—a private cartel that is pillaging the taxpayer on behalf of [its] banker buddies.”
Holding up a sign with Snyder was J.B. Webb, a carpenter from Manchester. Having voted for Al Gore for President in ’00 and John Kerry in ’04, (“That’s before I discovered Ron Paul”), registered independent Webb said she would “absolutely” support Paul on a third-party ticket in the fall.
“There’s no other candidate I would even consider voting for beside Ron Paul,” she told us, saying it was Paul’s monetary policy that attracted the Texas congressman to her.
Webb’s sentiments were seconded by Dr. Tony Lowenburg, a Merrimack chiropractor, who called Ron Paul “the only candidate I could support.” Lowenburg cited the libertarian GOPer’s calls for “bringing the troops home” and curtailing U.S. commitments abroad.
The passion for Paul’s agenda of rolling back the U.S. presence abroad resonated particularly with a crowd of his backers gathered on Elm Street here to wave signs at passersby on primary eve. One of them, an Air Force veteran named “Joe” (“I don’t like to give my last name”) told HUMAN EVENTS that Paul realized the danger of extending commitments abroad and that as a result, “more servicemen are dying from suicide than on the battlefield.” Like most others we spoke to, “Joe” said he would support Paul if the physician-candidate ran as a third-party hopeful.
“I like Ron Paul, his message of small government, and especially the limitations he wants to place on U.S. military involvement abroad,” Roland Nobile, Manchester law student, told us on the Monday before the primary. Nobile said he planned to vote for Paul on Tuesday. When we asked whether he would support his candidate if he “went rogue” this fall, Nobile replied: “I’m tempted to because not one of the other Republicans appeals to me in the way Ron Paul does. But no—I’ll vote Republican. It’s too important that we defeat Obama.”