The Hill Pundits Blog — April 5, 2012

Will Ron Paul go totally in the tank for Mitt Romney?

By Peter Fenn – 04/05/12 01:19 PM ET

OK, let’s assume that Rick Santorum reads the tea leaves, believes the polls in Pennsylvania and drops out next week and endorses Mitt Romney. After all, Rick doesn’t want to be the South at the Battle of Gettysburg! He figures he has a chance for 2016 and can still carry the conservative mantle.

Newt Gingrich can do whatever he wants — no one cares. Voters are not paying attention anymore.

But what about Ron Paul?

Will he continue the fight, forge on, rally his supporters behind his libertarian banner? Will he really consider a third party, as he alluded to the other day on WMAL radio? Will he show that he is a true believer in his cause? Will he even continue to campaign through June until Romney secures the necessary delegates?

Or will Paul decide to lay low, make a few speeches and basically abandon his supporters?

Speculation over the last several months has centered around Ron Paul’s concern about his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and his career. Don’t tick off the Romney folks; they will take it out on Rand. Be sure to play this all a little closer to your vest since Republicans will freeze out Rand. Be nice to Mitt; the establishment believes he is THE MAN, and they’ll help Rand.

But Ron Paul is Ron Paul, not Rand Paul. And his appeal is that he doesn’t pander to the audiences in those debate halls, as all the other candidates have done so pathetically. He stands up to those he disagrees with and tells it like it is — the one consistent voice in these debates who refused to bend with the prevailing wind.

Now, for candidate Ron Paul, the rubber does hit the road. Does he not only make nice with Mitt — does he also quit the race, does he endorse him, does he fold?

The pressure might be too great and Paul might go in the tank for Romney. All the money raised, all the debates, all the issue fights might be for naught. He might cave.

The real question, then, is what happens to the Ron Paul supporters? Do they go quietly into the night? Do they jump aboard the Romney Express? Does the anger pour forth?

Or does Paul decide that he won’t go in the tank for Mitt and continue the fight to the convention and to November?