West Regional Sweet Sixteen Matchup: Paul Vs. McCain
#2 seed: Retired Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
Born: August 20, 1935 (age 77) – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Background: After his formal education and medical training, Dr. Paul worked as a flight surgeon in the US Air Force and National Guard from 1963-68. At the conclusion of his service, Paul relocated to Texas where he worked as an obstetrician and gynecologist until his election to Congress (the first of three separate stints) in 1976. All told, Paul served as a Congressman from 1976-77, 1979-85, and 1997-2013. He also ran for a Senate seat in 1984, ran for President on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988, and ran for the GOP nomination in both 2008 and 2012.
Former Party: Libertarian (1988 presidential campaign).
Strength: Criticism of Democrats and Republicans. Throughout his political career, Ron Paul has never been shy about criticizing his own party (past and present), as well as Democrats across the aisle. Here are two choice quotes from many to choose from:
1987 criticism of Reagan: “Since  Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party have given us skyrocketing deficits, and astoundingly a doubled national debt. How is it that the party of balanced budgets, with control of the White House and Senate, accumulated red ink greater than all previous administrations put together? … There is no credibility left for the Republican Party as a force to reduce the size of government. That is the message of the Reagan years.”
2012 criticism of Democrats and Republicans: “If the policies of the Republican Party are the same as the Democrat Party and they don’t want to change anything on foreign policy, they don’t want to cut anything, they don’t want to audit the Fed and find out about monetary policy, they don’t want to have actual change in government, that is a problem for me.”
Weakness: No 2012 3rd Party Presidential Run. Paul refused a second (see: 1988) third party run for President in 2012, content to let his ample support play out its losing course in the GOP nomination process. A Libertarian or even American’s Elect Ron Paul for President run would have easily seen the most support for a third party candidate since Ross Perot, but many speculated Paul wouldn’t (or couldn’t) do it because it could undermine Republican Party support for his son Rand’s career.
#3 seed: Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
Born: August 29, 1936 (age 76) — Coco Solo Naval Air Station, Panama Canal Zone.
Background: Before entering politics, McCain served in the US Navy, eventually gaining the rank of Captain by the time he retired in 1981. McCain was most famous for his five and a half year span as a POW during the Vietnam War, having been shot down flying a mission in October 1976 and not gaining release from the North Vietnamese until March 1973. McCain relocated to Arizona in 1980, and won election to the House of Representatives in 1982. He served two terms, then ran successfully for Senate in 1986, where he has served since. McCain ran for President in both 2000 and 2008, winning the nomination to take on Barack Obama but losing by an overwhelming margin after the Financial Crisis doomed the Republican Party’s electoral prospects.
Former Party: None.
Strength: Maverick. McCain’s appeal to independent voters has always revolved around his “Maverick” nickname, earned for his willingness to disagree with the views of the Republican Party as a whole. Highlights of McCain at his most “mavericky” include work with Russ Feingold from 1994-2002 on the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act, and his work with Ted Kennedy from 2005-2007 on immigration reform.
Weakness: Post 2008 McCain. Where did the “maverick” go? McCain self-repudiated the maverick label during the 2008 campaign, and since losing to Barack Obama, has been in almost lockstep opposition to his administration with the rest of the Republican Party.