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BREAKING: Ron Paul Pretty Much Drops Out of Presidential Race

The dream is over, Paulians.  Well, sort of:

Ron Paul will not compete in any upcoming primaries, according to a release sent out to reporters this afternoon, though the campaign will continue its work in selecting delegates to send to the convention. "Our campaign will continue to work in the state convention process," Paul said in a statement from his campaign. "We will no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted. Doing so with any hope of success would take many tens of millions of dollars we simply do not have. I encourage all supporters of Liberty to make sure you get to the polls and make your voices heard, particularly in the local, state, and Congressional elections, where so many defenders of Freedom are fighting and need your support." Paul isn't dropping out, however: "We will continue to take leadership positions, win delegates, and carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that Liberty is the way of the future."


So he's technically staying in, but only to make a symbolic stand for the issues that have animated his campaign from the starting gun.  He's done competing for delegates.  Slate's Dave Weigel has a keen theory on why Paul may have reached this decision:

Practical, and yet still bad timing. Still on the calendar are primaries in Arkansas (May 22), the last of the deep South states that have proven inhospitable to the grandaddy of health care mandates; Kentucky (May 22), where Paul's son is a U.S. Senator; Texas (May 29), where Paul lives; Montana (June 5), where Paul won votes as a third party candidate* in 2008; and California (June 5), where Paul can pick up hundreds of thousands of protests votes. The Kentucky factoid's probably the relevant one here. Eight days out, Paul wants us to know that his crushing defeat in the state will have no impact whatsoever on Rand Paul's rising star.

Protecting his son's interests as an emerging leader within the party is one of the reasons many observers have insisted all along that Ron Paul would not run as a third party candidate.  If he went that route and helped ensure a second term for Obama, the party would never forgive him.  He might not care about what the GOP thinks of him, but Rand reportedly has designs on a big future, and father dearest doesn't want to poison the well.  I'll leave you with two items.  First, Paul's most memorable attack ad from the primary saga, which helped bloody up Newt Gingrich in Iowa:



And second, a question: The conventional -- and intuitive -- wisdom presumes that an independent run by Paul would deny Romney the White House, but is that necessarily accurate?

If Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul were to run as an independent or third-party candidate in the general election, he would take more votes away from President Barack Obama, a Democrat, than Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, a Rasmussen Reports poll suggests. With Paul in the race, Romney would win with 44 percent of the vote, followed by Obama with 39 percent and Paul with 13 percent, if the election were this week, according to the May 6-7 poll of 1,000 likely voters. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.


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