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Why New Hampshire Was A Win For Ron Paul

Charles Krauthammer thinks that Ron Paul's runner-up placement in New Hampshire is a bigger story than Mitt Romney's win in the Granite State:
There are two stories coming out of New Hampshire. The big story is Mitt Romney. The bigger one is Ron Paul.

Romney won a major victory with nearly 40 percent of the vote, 16 points ahead of number two. The split among his challengers made the outcome even more decisive. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were diminished by distant, lower-tier finishes. Rick Perry got less than 1 percent. And Jon Huntsman, who staked everything on New Hampshire, came in a weak third with less than half of Romney’s vote. He practically moved to the state — and then received exactly one-sixth of the vote in a six-man contest. Where does he go from here?

But the bigger winner was Ron Paul. He got 21 percent in Iowa, 23 in New Hampshire, making him the only candidate other than Romney to do well with two very different electorates, one more evangelical and socially conservative, the other more moderate and fiscally conservative.

[snip]

Paul was genuinely delighted with his [sic], because, after a quarter-century in the wilderness, he’s within reach of putting his cherished cause on the map. Libertarianism will have gone from the fringes — those hopeless, pathetic third-party runs — to a position of prominence in a major party.

Look at him now. He’s getting prime-time air, interviews everywhere, and, most important, respect for defeating every Republican candidate but one. His goal is to make himself leader of the opposition — within the Republican party.
My emphases.

I think that Krauthammer is absolutely right here. I've never viewed Ron Paul as a true contender for the nomination -- much less the Presidency. Not because he has 'fringy' policy ideas -- I'd actually like to see someone try to bring all of our military home and defend our borders instead of building bases around the globe -- but rather because I don't think that Paul exudes Presidential characteristics.

Then again, maybe we need a non-presidential President.

Regardless, the big winner in New Hampshire -- nay, the whole primary -- is small-L libertarian conservatism. Whether or not Ron Paul has the ability to defeat Mitt Romney is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Republican candidates will now need to speak to the desires of the libertarian wing of the Republican party.

Or, at the very least, mainstreamy GOPers need to start to listen to differing conservative viewpoints.

That is a win for the fiesty Congressman from Texas.