Many in the GOP realize that Ron Paul is not going to fade away once the early primaries are over. If Ron Paul doesn't win the primary battle, they'll need his voters to win in the general election.
Ron Paul did pretty well in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday. He placed second, slightly outperforming pre-election polls, and – perhaps more importantly – he tripled the number of votes he got in the Granite State when he ran for president in 2008. More and more, many in the GOP are realizing that this time around Ron Paul is a significant phenomenon that’s not going to fade away once the early primaries are over.
They’re also realizing that it’s counterproductive to dismiss the Texas libertarian’s followers as cranks, college students in favor of drug legalization, or disaffected liberals. The 2012 general election is likely to be close, and the GOP will need all the voters it can get.
Thus some in the GOP are beginning to make conciliatory noises about the Paulites. Tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina on Wednesday said that the Republican presidential candidates need to listen to Ron Paul and might do well to adopt some of his ideas, particularly on economics.
“One of the things that’s hurt the so-called conservative alternative [candidates] is saying negative things about Ron Paul,” said Senator DeMint on conservative Laura Ingraham’s radio show. “I’d like to see a Republican Party that embraces a lot of the libertarian ideas.”