At the very beginning of his 2012 presidential campaign, Ron Paul seemed adamant about several things: First, his promise to strictly adhere to the Constitution in regards to sending the military overseas. Second, his feelings about ending the Fed and FEMA. And third, his stance on running in the 2012 election as a third party candidate (he indicated that he would not).
Most people agree that when there is a third party candidate in the running - if they manage to get any measurable percentage of the vote - it does little more than split the vote of one party or the other. For example, in 1992 H. Ross Perot took some independent voters, but most of his votes came from the Republican side. Bill Clinton may have won that election anyway, but Perot made his victory much more decisive by eating up many of the votes that would likely have gone to George H. W. Bush had his name not been on the ballot. In that same manner, most of the pundits agree that if Ron Paul were to enter the 2012 election as a third party candidate, the likely outcome would be that Obama would celebrate another victory. Paul would split the conservative/Republican vote with the official GOP nominee and possibly pick up a few independents in the process - just not enough to matter.
Ron Paul's statements on the matter have always reflected that view - that if he was not the nominee he would not be willing to risk another four years of Obama by splitting the vote in that way.
However, in the wake of a surge that left Ron Paul in third place in Iowa and holding onto a possible second in New Hampshire, his tune seems to be changing. He hasn't taken a full step - more like a little slide - toward walking back his prior statements. This week, when asked, his response was a murky, "Well, I'll have a big decision to make if August comes around and I am not the nominee."
And so I ask Dr. Paul the following: Pray tell, what decision might that be? If you are revisiting the idea of a third party run, remember that at this point any third party candidate is likely to be the catalyst that propels America into another four years of Obama. Does it really require a lot of thought to decide whether or not you're willing to tank the entire election because you didn't get your way? Or does a third party run seem like an effective way to punish the American public for what is, in your mind, a bad decision?