Age, Extreme Views Could Undermine Ron Paul’s Presidential Candidacy

COMMENTARY | With Ron Paul’s announcement that he is running for president of the United States in the 2012 election, what are his chances of winning the GOP nomination? He has a rabid base of support and ideas that attract a broad spectrum of voters, but is it enough to win the nomination? Age, policies, and an ability to work with the establishment will all factor into his success as a candidate. Some will call him too far outside the mainstream to win the nomination. Below are detailed three reasons why he will likely not win the GOP nomination for 2012.

In the 2008 presidential election, John McCain was 72 and many doubts were raised about his age and ability to finish his term. Paul will face the same problem, as he is currently 74 and will be 76 on Election Day. A younger, well-informed vice presidential candidate would help overcome this, but no contender has a running mate without winning the nomination. Although Paul has no reported health issues, president of the United States is arguably the most demanding job in the world, and has certainly taken a physical, mental, and emotional toll on much younger men.

Paul is very much a non-interventionist when it comes to foreign policy. While a supporter of targeting Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, Paul has been a very vocal opponent of the wars and nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. Likewise, he has been against humanitarian interventions in Libya and Serbia. In his desire to see government become smaller, military interventions and foreign aid do not fit his vision of the Constitution. In the vision of others, who see the U.S. military as an active member of NATO and U.N. peacekeeping forces, nation building and interventions are a part of our global mission.

Paul is truly the definition of a political outsider. In 1988, he ran for president as a Libertarian. In 2008, despite running for president as a Republican and losing the nomination, instead of supporting the eventual GOP nominee, he supported Chuck Baldwin, the candidate from the Constitution Party. Many see his views as too far out of the mainstream.

Paul has a large online presence, but the media typically ignore him. His opposition to the war on drugs, unwillingness to compromise on his principles, and continual fight against “business as usual” in Washington will make coalition-building with the Republican power brokers next to impossible. Brian Doherty of Reason Magazine has gone as far as to say the Republican Party “hates him.”

Paul has an extremely difficult path to the GOP nomination in 2012. Fair or not, his age will be used against him, especially with a younger generation of voters who may blame the older generation for today’s problems. His outsider status and lack of media coverage, good or bad, will hurt when it comes to generating name recognition among more casual voters. Paul is an intelligent man with a solid grasp of the issues and the principles of the Constitution, but many voters will see him as being too extreme.