One way to measure Rep. Ron Paul’s ascendance as a political player is to compare the cold shoulder he got from rival Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 with the cozier embrace he has received from 2012 presumptive nominee Mitt Romney.
When Mr. Romney announced Monday that he supports auditing the Federal Reserve, it underscored the odd but powerful influence of the maverick congressman from Texas, whose years-long push for a Fed audit will now appear in the party platform.
From overseas adventurism to deficit spending to a distrust of government institutions, the gospel of Paul has revived long-simmering debates that were muffled during the eight-year tenure of President George W. Bush — and, at least on some of those issues, Mr. Paul’s side appears to have gained the upper hand.
Indeed, with Mr. Paul and his ardent supporters set to play a visible role in the Republican National Convention next week in Tampa, Fla., it’s arguable that Mr. Paul, in his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, has done more to shape the party’s ideology than either Mr. McCain or Mr. Romney.
“More than anything else, what Ron Paul with these past two presidential runs has done is used the Republican Party presidential process as a platform to proselytize to an audience that otherwise wouldn’t hear it,” said Mark P. Jones, chairman of the political science department at Rice University in Houston, just north of Mr. Paul’s southeast Texas congressional district.
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