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Tea Party's Pick: Michele Bachmann or Ron Paul?

By Doug Wead   |   Tuesday, 28 Jun 2011 02:20 PM

No one can deny the nascent phenomenon of the liberty movement in America. It is riding a populist wave against government-insider deals that are making the rich richer and the poor poorer and sacrificing individual liberty in the process.

An interesting mix of Republicans and Democrats are involved in this uprising, blurring old labels like conservative and liberal, but the real showdown is happening in the race for the GOP nomination.

Michele Bachmann,Ron Paul,Sarah Palin,populist,liberty movement,social conservative,Christian,Lutheran,Timothy Geithner,Ronald Reagan
Michele Bachmann (Getty Images)
While all the candidates now pay homage to the movement, the real question is this: Who can best ride this wave? Michele Bachmann, congresswoman from Minnesota? Or Ron Paul, congressman from Texas?

Here are the pertinent points. Bachmann is a relatively new face and is polling well, at least for now. Her best chance  is in Iowa. A win there and she can conceivably pick up delegates in the South as well.
Ron Paul (AP photo)
Ron Paul, by contrast, is not only the father of the modern liberty movement — the man who made it fashionable to believe in the constitution again — but he has been consistent over a lifetime and seemingly incorruptible.

As a tax attorney Bachmann allegedly went after a taxpayer earning less than $10,000 a year — and at a time when Timothy Geithner, Obama’s Treasury Secretary, wasn’t paying HIS taxes. And in 2008 she voted for Nancy Pelosi's stimulus bill.

In contrast, Ron Paul has been the champion of the little guy, arguing for years, for example, against government taxing of waitresses' tips.

Bachmann has appeal to social conservatives. She is a Christian, a Lutheran, but then so is Ron Paul, who was Lutheran in upbringing and now attends a Baptist church.

Paul refuses to promote his faith for political purposes but told a reporter in 2007 that he “believed in Jesus Christ as his personal savior” and sought God’s guidance in many of his important life decisions. He has been married to his wife, Carol, for 51 years.

Consider the following. Ron Paul has money and a ground game. And he has both in spades. Having a ground game this early has not been seen since the Reagan campaign of 1980.

In fact, one could argue that those two things are all that matters at this stage in the process. Romney and Huntsman have money and with it they will be able to hire foot soldiers but they represent a return to George W. Bush’s version of a Republican ”conservative,” which means $500 billion annual deficits instead of $1.2 trillion.

Well, you say, but Bachmann is tied for first in this week’s Iowa poll. Keep in mind, Rudolph Giuliani was the front-runner at this same stage in the process last time. And his eventual, total delegate count at the Republican National Convention was zero.

Only a few months ago, Donald Trump was soaring in the polls. Which brings up the subject of vetting. Trump was not ready for the nation to learn all about how he built his casinos and all the details of his private life. With each success for Bachmann, the scrutiny will increase.

There is a reason why most candidates have to run for president numerous times. But Ron Paul is vetted.

Finally, there is the whole thing about making a decision and sticking to it. Let’s say you move to Bachmann because you are impressed with her polling numbers. And then the media exposes some story that hits her hard and the numbers drop. Or Ron Paul spends some television advertising and his numbers climb. Will you move back?

The problem with moving from candidate to candidate is that each time you move you lose.

Bachmann ’s showing in the polls has one explanation: media exposure.  The media have given it all some air time, something consistently denied to Ron Paul.

But don’t worry, don’t panic. The fact that the public has responded is a good thing, an encouraging sign. Remember, the media did its worst against Ronald Reagan in 1980, calling him a racist and a warmonger and he eventually prevailed. His cause was to save America from totalitarian communism. Our cause is to save it from ourselves.

Stay true. Be positive. It’s still early. Ron Paul’s message will get out.

Meanwhile, Paul is now poised to pull off an upset of historic proportions. I, for one, am not going to miss it.

Doug Wead is a New York Times best-selling author, presidential historian, and former adviser to two American presidents. He is a senior adviser for the Ron Paul presidential campaign.

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