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- Four Things to Know About Super Tuesday 2012
- Jim Grant and the GOP Joining Forces to Bring Back the Gold Standard
- How Presidential Candidate Ron Paul's Campaign Could End the Fed
Sure, winning the nomination would have been a plus, but Ron Paul's strategy for years has been to bring his libertarian, anti-debt, anti-inflation views square into the mainstream of American politics.
In that light, the 2012 election is just a means to an end.
That's why Paul is determined to stay in the presidential primary race until the Republican national convention is held in August.
Rather than create a schism within the Republican Party or mount a third party challenge - a tactic that never works in American politics -- Ron Paul wants to infuse his philosophy into the GOP by working within the existing system.
Toward that end, the Paul campaign has stepped up its delegate-collection efforts in recent weeks, taking advantage of often-arcane rules unique to each state's selection process.
Last weekend, Paul won 21 out of 24 delegates in Maine and 22 out of 25 in Nevada. A week earlier Paul won 20 out of the 24 delegates in Minnesota and 20 out of 40 in Missouri.
The sticking point is that convention delegates are bound by party rules to vote according to primary or caucus results on the first ballot. That means many of Paul's hard-won delegates will have to cast their first vote for former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney.
But it also means a lot more supporters at the convention than Paul would have had otherwise. And those delegates will be free to vote as they wish on other issues, such as the official party platform.
"We want to have a strong, respectful presence that says 'We are here, we are going to participate, and we are ready to talk about the party platform with you if you take our issues seriously," Ron Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton recently told Business Insider. "We're going to send a message that the liberty wing of the Republican Party is strong, and that it isn't going anywhere."
The Romney campaign has begun to take notice, sending a top lawyer to the Maine GOP convention, though it did little to stop the Ron Paul juggernaut.
Romney, who still should easily surpass the 1,144 delegates he needs to secure the nomination, may be better served letting the national Republican Party try to rein Paul in while he tries to negotiate for the support of Paul's energized legions after the August convention.
In fact, some sort of deal between the two camps almost certainly is already in the works.
But Ron Paul and Maxine Waters do share at least one dubious distinction. They both like to put family members on the payroll.
In terms of numbers, Ron Paul has enriched more relatives - six -- than any other House member over the past two election cycles.
Though Maxine Waters had just two relatives on the payroll, her daughter and her grandson, she was more generous than Paul. Waters showered her relatives with a combined $495,650, while Paul doled out $304,599.
The unlikely pair features prominently in a new report from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), "Family Affair," that details how 248 members of the House of Representatives have been using campaign funds to pad the pockets of their relatives and, in some cases, themselves.
And as is often the case with such Washington shenanigans, no rules were technically broken.
"A lot of what was done is legal, but a large segment of the contributing population would be surprised to see that their donations went straight into the pockets of congressional family members," Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, told the Los Angeles Daily News.
"There's all sorts of ways members of Congress can further their family's financial interests, which amounts to nepotism."
The widely known Ron Paul and Maxine Waters demonstrate that such practices are bipartisan, although Republicans cited in the CREW report do outnumber Democrats 143 to 105.
The key findings in the CREW report, which focuses on the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, paint a picture of lawmakers unabashedly using their positions to enrich family members as well as themselves:
This year the Republican field is as competitive as I've ever seen. You can make a case for multiple candidates winning the caucuses, and any candidate could be boosted into the thick of the race by a strong finish.
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For investors, there are two criteria when looking at presidential candidates: First, how well will a candidate's ideas and personality play in the market and in the U.S. economy? And second, how likely is the candidate to beat President Obama in November?
Ron Paul, for whom returning to the gold standard has been a decades-long crusade, has said he would name Grant chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. In his case, that would be a compromise - Paul has often called for the Fed to be abolished altogether.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich has promised to appoint Jim Grant to head a commission to study the possibility of going back to the gold standard.
Grant, who publishes Grant's Interest Rate Observer, is a well-known gold bug and critic of the Fed.
His ideas have attracted increasing favor in a party that blames the Fed's easy money policy for the country's economic problems.
Grant calls the current system of fiat currency an "anachronism" and questioned the "command and control, top-down system of having a handful of people at the Fed dictate interest rates."
He's worried that the Fed's quantitative easing policies have created a bubble in Treasury bonds.
And make no mistake: If a Republican president gives him the opportunity, Grant already has a plan, starting with making a public case for the gold standard.
"I would then lay out a timeline for the conversion to a constitutional dollar, a dollar as envisaged by the Founding Fathers," Grant told MarketWatch.
Grant said he believes a dollar should be fixed "like a foot, or a pound."
Such a policy would arrest the steep decline in value the dollar has suffered since the United States abandoned the gold standard in 1971 - a point Paul often raises on the campaign trail.
"Since 1971, since we lost our link to gold, the dollar has lost 85%," Paul recently told NPR. "So if you were a saver and wanted to take care of your kid's education, even if you made a little interest, you're going to lose money."
Middle-class worries like that have helped make a return to the gold standard a major issue in the 2012 Republican primary battle.
The other two remaining GOP contenders, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, are believed to be against a return to the gold standard, though both refrain from talking about it.
Of course, Republican proponents of the gold standard may not need Paul or Gingrich to win the nomination to move the issue forward.
It's one that could turn ugly in November if the GOP manages to score big.
Where Paul has been the lone voice in the wilderness criticizing the central bank for years, others in the GOP recently adopted the Fed as a scapegoat for the financial crisis of 2008.
Many of the Republican attacks include calls to fire Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and to scale back the Fed's mandate - or in Paul's case, eradicate it altogether.
And while Paul - who actually wrote a book called "End the Fed" in 2008 - has little chance of becoming the nominee, his campaign does have a larger philosophical objective.
"It is Paul's goal to permanently establish within the Republican Party a group that is dead set on not having the Fed," Douglas Holtz-Eakin, chief economic adviser to Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, during his 2008 run for the presidency,told MarketWatch. "This is not going away."
Ron Paul Scores Big With Younger VotersAlthough Paul's overall support generally hovers in the low double digits, his message is very popular among younger Republican voters.
Paul won 48% of the under-30 vote in Iowa, 47% of the under-30 vote in New Hampshire and 31% in South Carolina. It's a demographic every candidate covets.
Paul's resonance with young voters, combined with the public's dim view of the Fed has set off an all-out GOP assault on the central bank.
For added juice, Republicans in general have sought to tie their criticisms of the Fed to U.S. President Barack Obama and the Democrats.
"If you are a [Republican] running for Congress - those freshmen in the House - they thought that Bernanke was walking around talking about buying assets for Obama to make it easier for him to spend," Holtz-Eakin told MarketWatch. "It lit the fuse."