Why Is Ron Paul Still In The GOP Race - And What Does He Want?

He hasn't won a single state primary or caucus, yet Ron Paul soldiers on in the GOP presidential race. He is quietly amassing delegates to the GOP national convention, but his real aim is to infuse the party with his brand of Republicanism.

Given the delegate math, it's improbable that Paul could attain the nomination. What, then, does he want to achieve by staying in the race? And what is to become of the Ron Paul Revolution – his supporters and his libertarian message – when Paul himself bows out?

He appears to have considered such questions. "Politicians don't amount to much," Paul once said, "but ideas do."

In other words, for Paul, it's about the message, not the office, says Ford O'Connell, chairman of the conservative Civic Forum PAC in Washington, D.C. "His intent is not to seek further office. He's trying to start a conversation about the direction of the country and the GOP."

Add in media speculation over a Paul-Romney alliance that has each candidate treating the other with kid gloves (which both campaigns have denied), and, the theory goes, whether by threat or pact, Paul is angling for influence.

"He wants to leave his mark," says Mr. O'Connell. "If Romney is the eventual nominee, he wants to have a say in the platform, or a say in the [vice presidency]."

Read more from Husna Haq at The Christian Science Monitor 

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Romney And Republican Rivals Face Difficult Path To Gaining 1,144 Delegates

Mitt Romney has repeatedly argued that no rival can catch up to him in the delegate race, making him the inevitable Republican nominee.

But in the convoluted delegate soup that candidates must navigate, another potential outcome has emerged: that Romney himself will come short of securing enough delegates to earn the nomination.

Even the most optimistic delegate projections show it to be nearly impossible for Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich to win the 1,144 delegates necessary to secure the GOP nomination. 

But both candidates, in particular Gingrich, have said they believe they can keep Romney from hitting the magic number needed to avoid a brokered convention in Tampa this August.

With the finish line so far out of sight, Santorum's campaign can argue reasonably that the race is far from settled while continuing to hammer the inevitably argument that has been a cornerstone of Romney's campaign.

"The biggest stumbling block for Romney is that he's using an atomic bomb to kill an ant, and Santorum just isn't going away," said GOP strategist Ford O'Connell, who worked on the McCain-Palin campaign.

In turn, Romney's campaign has been forced to play defense, spending money and resources on an increasingly prolonged primary campaign that has sparked concerns it could hurt the GOP in the general election.

"We're focused on this number 1,144 and not on the number 270," O'Connell said, alluding to the number of electoral votes necessary to win the presidency.

Read more from Justin Sink at The Hill

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Ford O'Connell At Reuters TV: Santorum Shocked GOP With Alabama, Mississippi Wins

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell says primary wins by Rick Santorum Tuesday night in the South shocked the GOP and put him in line to go one-on-one with frontrunner Mitt Romney. Santorum campaigned for votes Wednesday in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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As Gingrich Stumbles On, Many See A Romney-Santorum Race

It turns out that Newt Gingrich will not take "no" for an answer.

A day after finishing second in Republican presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi that he had cast as must-wins for his flailing campaign, Gingrich pressed forward on Wednesday, even as calls for him to drop out persisted.

But as Gingrich campaigned in Illinois - which on Tuesday will host the next big contest in the state-by-state fight for the Republican nomination - it was clear that many Republicans now see the race as a two-man battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Republican leaders and activists speculated openly about the impact of a Gingrich withdrawal, and whether conservatives who support the former U.S. House speaker would flock to Santorum and make him competitive with Romney, the Republican front-runner.

"Rick Santorum really needs Newt Gingrich to get out of the race," said unaffiliated Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. "Gingrich may only be taking 10 to 15 percent of the vote as the race goes on, but the majority of that would otherwise be going to Santorum and that makes a huge difference.

"Romney is, without a doubt, the beneficiary the longer Gingrich stays in the race. ... This race is going to keep going and going."

Read more from Deborah Charles and John Whitesides

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Should Newt Gingrich Exit The 2012 GOP Presidential Primary?

Ford O'Connell and Democratic political comedian Pete Dominick join CNN's Ashleigh Banfield on CNN's "Fair Game" to discuss whether former House Speaker Newt Gingrich should exist the 2012 Republican presidential primary.

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Santorum Has Earned The Right For This To Be A Two-Man Race

Anyone who says they predicted Rick Santorum would win both the Mississippi and Alabama primaries yesterday is either (a) lying or (b) a Santorum supporter.

But, somehow, Santorum and his makeshift campaign prevailed. This was bad news for Mitt Romney, who hoped to dispel doubts he could appeal to the base with a victory in a Deep South state.

Republicans need to clear the field so the top two candidates and their constituencies—Santorum and the right; Romney and the establishment—can have it out. If Romney is going to carry the GOP banner, he must prove he can beat Santorum straight up.

It's time Republicans begin to look beyond the primaries to November and to start to identify which candidate can beat President Obama in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia—the states on which the election likely will turn.

And for that to happen, Gingrich and Paul need to get out and give the GOP the one-on-one competition it needs.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Ford O'Connell At Politico's Arena: 'Could Santorum Really Win The GOP Nod?'

Barring a cataclysmic event, Mitt Romney is still the only candidate in the field with a path to secure 1,144 delegates. That said, Newt Gingrich should exit the race because his Southern strategy failed and Rick Santorum has earned the right to go head-to-head with Romney.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"

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Gingrich Campaign In Doubt After Southern Losses

Newt Gingrich may not be ready to admit it, but his presidential hopes are all but over and calls will be getting louder for him to step aside.

The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who had hoped to revitalize his sagging campaign for the Republican presidential nomination with wins in the South, came in a disappointing second in Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday despite pouring money and time into the two states.

"This really was his last chance to show whether he had the ability to win," said Natalie Davis, professor of political science at Birmingham Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. "If he can't win in Alabama ... he really can't win anywhere. This was his last stand and he lost."

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell predicted a chorus of politicians urging Gingrich to drop his White House bid.

"There absolutely will be calls for Gingrich to step aside," said O'Connell.

"It makes it very hard as an argument for donors to say I'm getting delegates just to block someone," said O'Connell. "The question is how much do Gingrich's backers not want to see Santorum win? Gingrich's presence in the race certainly hinders Rick Santorum, which benefits Mitt Romney."

Read more from Debroah Charles At Reuters

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Southern Primaries Preview: Romney Lead Puts Pressure On Gingrich, Santorum

Mitt Romney’s official campaign slogan is “Believe in America.” But unofficially, at least for the primaries, it might as well be “Divide and Conquer.”

On the eve of the next round of nominating contests – Tuesday’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi and caucuses in Hawaii – that’s the name of the game for the Republican presidential frontrunner.

And as long as both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrichremain in the race, dividing the “not-Romney” vote, the former Massachusetts governor is well-positioned to build on his lead in the delegate count and head into the Tampa party convention in August with the most delegates, if not the majority.

Polls of Republican voters in Alabama and Mississippi show a three-way dead heat. But the stakes for each candidate are distinctly different.

“It’s likely to be a long night,” says Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who has worked on campaigns in the South. “If Romney wins one, this could wind down. If he wins both that might be just short of historic.”

Going forward, Romney’s best “firewall” is Gingrich’s ego, Mr. O’Connell says.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor 

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Despite Better News For Romney, GOP Targets Congress

Undeterred by a new poll indicating a decline in President Obama's approval rating, Republicans, once sanguine about a presidential victory, are rethinking their strategy and taking aim at Congress.

Just eight months ago, Republicans were squarely focused on moving one of their own into the White House, confident that President Obama’s dismal approval ratings lent them a sure shot at the presidency. But now, as a caustic nomination fight drags on and a slowly brightening economy boosts Obama’s prospects for reelection, Republicans are realizing that a White House win is not a slam dunk.

However, some Republican strategists say that type of either-or approach could backfire. Not making a strong play for the Oval Office could breed disaster for the GOP’s Senate race prospects, said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist and chairman of CivicForumPAC. “Since 1980, in most tight Senate races, the party that wins at the top of the ticket has dragged the Senate with it,” O’Connell said.  “So even if the task of defeating President Obama has gotten harder, Republicans need to have their fight up for this one. They won’t win the Senate without it.” 

Read more from Michelle Hirsch at The Fiscal Times

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