Donald Trump and Ron Paul: Republican Fringe Out in Front of 2012 Field

Republican establishment frets as less conventional candidates dominate coverage

ByABC News
April 26, 2011, 7:01 PM

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2011— -- With two of the more colorful potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, Rep. Ron Paul and Donald Trump, making so many headlines, GOP establishment types desperate to show their donors and their base that they've got a real shot at beating President Obama in 2012 have to be worried.

Trump, the real estate developer and reality TV star, is scheduled to land his helicopter Wednesday morning at Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire, where he's sure to attract lots of media attention and more questions about his investigation into Obama's place of birth.

Trump has also called on the president to release his academic records. While offering no proof, Trump has claimed that the Columbia and Harvard graduate "had been a poor student who did not deserve to be admitted to the Ivy League universities he attended."

Paul, who ran on the libertarian side of the Republican party in 2008, kicked off his exploratory campaign in Des Moines, Iowa, this afternoon. He came in fifth place in the Iowa caucus in 2008.

Paul's libertarian profile strikes a chord with many Republican primary voters, especially as the national debate now centers on issues he's long championed, including reducing the deficit and cutting government spending.

At his press conference today, Paul said that since his run in 2008, "millions of more people are concerned about the very things I've talked about," such as excessive spending and the "monetary system."

As "Dr. No," he has the longest record in Congress of opposing wasteful spending -- or most any spending. He has voted against nearly every spending bill that has come up during his term in the House.

Paul is an intellectual forebear of the Tea Party; supporters were appearing at his events in tri-corner hats long before the 2009 health care reform debate.

Even so, the 75-year-old has yet to prove that he can broaden his appeal outside this committed but small band of true believers. During a question-and-answer session today with reporters, for example, Paul once again highlighted his disdain for the Federal Reserve -- he's long called for its elimination and a return to the gold standard.

"Higher prices will be the key issue in the next election," Paul said. And he blames federal monetary policy for the rise in costs.

For a look at the entire field of possible Republican candidates, including who is considering a run and who has ruled one out, visit our 2010 Republican presidential campaign guidebook.

Meanwhile, the more serious establishment Republicans continue to sit on the sidelines.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a favorite of conservative columnists like George Will and David Brooks, remains tightlipped and some insiders think he won't make a decision until later this month. Former Utah Gov. and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman doesn't return stateside until the end of April.

To be sure, there's plenty of time for the more establishment-oriented candidates like ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and ex-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to recapture the spotlight. Most voters are paying very little attention to the process at this time.

But, the fact that the GOP field seems stuck in neutral and that Donald Trump and his "birtherism" is currently taking up a lot of oxygen, isn't helpful to the GOP brand.