from a pragmatic political point of view, it's also true that the Paul candidacy helps rather than hurts my party and my preferred nominee, Rudy Giuliani. Rudy is in no danger of losing Republican primary voters to Ron Paul. And if (as I have speculated) Paul mounts an independent candidacy in the general election, he will draw votes from disaffected Democrats, disappointed in Hillary Clinton's failure to articulate a more radical antiwar message. As third-party candidates go, Ron Paul is Nader, not Perot.
To which Ramesh responds:
I keep reading posts about how Ron Paul will, in a general election, primarily appeal to the antiwar Left and thus help Republicans. But don't forget that Rep. Paul is a pro-lifer, and single-issue pro-life voters might not have anywhere else to go next fall.
Ramesh is right: If Giuliani is the GOP nominee and Paul mounts an independent bid, the impact of Paul's pro-life stand could end up determining which party he takes more votes from. I could see it being negligible, with most pro-life voters not even being aware that Paul opposes abortion (it isn't exactly front and center in his campaign at the moment). But I could also see it being the straw that, in a close election, breaks Giuliani's back.