Ron Paul emerged from Tuesday's five Republican presidential primaries in a stronger position to influence the GOP platform at the party convention this summer and with a better chance to make libertarian principles a mainstay in the GOP for years to come.
Paul, a U.S. representative from Texas, didn't win a state Tuesday. In fact, he has not won a state since the nominating primaries and caucuses began in January. He remains far behind frontrunner Mitt Romney, the presumptive nominee, in total delegates. An Associated Press estimate has Romney with 844 delegates out of the 1,144 needed for the nomination. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has 260, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 137 and Paul with 79.
But Santorum has dropped out of the race, and Gingrich's campaign is badly in debt and unable to generate any momentum. By contrast, Paul has plenty of money and no debt, and is well organized at the grassroots level.
Paul's forces are working hard to make sure that delegates who support him win places at the national convention by mastering the sometimes arcane rules and procedures that govern the states' delegate selection processes. Paul is also actively courting Santorum supporters in a number of states, such as Iowa and Minnesota.
It's possible that Paul could move into second place by the time of the convention, especially if the Texas congressman comes close to the top in the Texas primary May 29, when 155 delegates will be at stake.
Paul has perhaps the most ardent supporters in the race. He backs huge cuts in the spending and power of the federal government, a quick end to the Afghanistan war, and a deep reduction in U.S. military commitments abroad.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News & World Report and writes “The Presidency” column for the U.S. News digital weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.