Saint Paul: Inside Ron Paul’s effort to convince Christian conservatives that he’s their man
If the press weren’t so lazy they would pin down Paul on the large logical inconsistencies between his libertarian posturing and pronounced theocrat leaning.
During his years in public office, Paul branded himself more as a “constitutional conservative” than a crusader against gay marriage and abortion. Most political observers know him more for his youthful fan base of passionate and, occasionally, rowdy supporters and his earnest defense of drug legalization. But the latest Iowa Poll, conducted for the Des Moines Register at the end of November, found that 17 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers said they thought Paul was “the most socially conservative” candidate in the race, second only to Michele Bachmann with 27 percent. (The margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.)
Only 1 in 10 likely caucusgoers in the poll said Newt Gingrich was the most socially conservative candidate, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney fared even worse with just 8 percent. The same poll found that 64 percent of Iowa’s likely voters considered themselves to be “very” or “mostly” conservative on gay marriage and abortion. In June, a survey conducted by the same group found that 58 percent of likely caucusgoers said a candidate’s support for civil unions for gay and lesbian couples would be considered a “deal killer.”
Paul sides with social conservatives on most issues: He believes that marriage should be defined as being between only one man and one woman and he does not think the federal government should guarantee women the right to have an abortion, a position influenced by his decades as an obstetrician who delivered thousands of babies. In public speeches, Paul often articulates a biblical foundation for his economic policies, framing capitalism as the moral giant among all other economic systems.
Prominent religious conservatives in Iowa, however, object that Paul does not apply his beliefs at the national level. Paul does not support a constitutional amendment to ban abortion, and he opposes a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He thinks both issues should be left up to the states.
“I don’t want the federal government dictating marriage definitions nor a position on right to life,” Paul said in March during an event at the University of Iowa. “It should be done locally. It’ll be imperfect, probably, because every state won’t be the same, but what is really bad is when you allow the federal government to define marriage and put the pressure and make the states follow those laws.”