Ron Paul is highly unlikely to be the next president. But could he become the Republicans’ Nader? Suppose after being knocked out of the primaries, Paul runs on the Libertarian Party ticket. He’s got a big war chest, and enthusiastic supporters. It seems quite possible that he could get 1-2% of the vote, enough to make sure the Republican nominee loses.

Note that given Paul’s anti-war platform, this would not merely be a spoiled gesture. He could actually sharply increase the chance of a pull-out from Iraq by running as a third party candidate. Nader tipped the scales in favor of his perceived greater evil; Paul would tip the scales in favor of his perceived lesser evil.

My only doubt about Paul’s ability to ensure a Democratic victory is that he might actually steal some far-left anti-war votes, preventing him from tipping the scales.

Convinced? OK, next question: If Ron Paul knew he could be the Republicans’ Nader, would he do so? He already ran as the LP candidate in 1988, so it seems pretty likely. Does anyone who has been following Paul’s candidacy more closely than I have have any insight to offer?