Does Ron Paul want his supporters to cool it?
Reports of altercations between Ron Paul supporters and police at the Louisiana state GOP convention don't do Ron Paul any good as he seeks a voice at the national convention in August.
Does Ron Paul want his supporters to cool it? Reading between the lines of recent campaign missives from Paul HQ, he does. The Paul forces got into heated confrontations at several GOP state conventions over the weekend – in Louisiana, security guards manhandled a leading Paul delegate, sending him to the hospital. But the Texas libertarian’s campaign is urging Paulites to turn the other cheek and make civility their watchword.
“Establishment Republicans sometimes claim that Ron Paul supporters occasionally get out-of-hand. This has been true, and to the extent that some Paul supporters have exhibited poor behavior [it] not only reflects badly on the individuals involved, but Dr. Paul,” wrote Paul campaign blogger Jack Hunter on June 2.
What Congressman Paul wants to avoid is an overt fight of some sort at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla. Mitt Romney’s won and will control the agenda. It would do Paul’s forces no good to fight that, although some die-hards are still passing around e-mails that show how Paul could win via a complicated strategy in which delegates bound to Mr. Romney just don’t vote on the first round, then switch and vote for Paul.
Paul’s campaign has said it has some platform planks it wants to push, including Federal Reserve restraint and Internet freedom. But the real goal is to try and take over the Republican Party from within by out-organizing the opposition. That’s the reason Paul supporters have devoted so much effort to learning obscure rules and then using that knowledge to make strong showings at caucuses, state party conventions, and other local meetings.
“The GOP is an ideological vacuum that is currently being filled with our people right before our eyes. Our superior philosophy will win the day,” wrote Mr. Hunter.
In the long run that could be an interesting contest in which lots of other Republican Party participants, such as tea party supporters, elected officials, and Romneyites, will have a say. In the short run, this effort has led to some hurt feelings, and worse.
Ron Paul supporters booed Romney’s son, Josh, last Friday at the Washington State GOP convention. In Shreveport, La., on Saturday, Paul supporter Henry Herford Jr. , who has a prosthetic hip, was injured when security guards attempted to prevent him from calling to order a re-formed convention approved by duly elected Paul delegates.
That is the Paul side of the story, in any case. According to the Paul campaign, Louisiana GOP officials “ignored the vast majority of duly elected delegates and attempted to use illegally adopted rules to deny Ron Paul supporters an opportunity to attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa.”
Paul supporters had packed the house by getting themselves elected as Louisiana state delegates at lightly-attended caucuses. Long story short, this led to disputes over who would represent which candidates where, and the convention split in two. Another Paul delegate was briefly detained by police and had some fingers broken, according to the Paul campaign.
In the end, the Paul people met with Romney’s state chairman and smoothed things over.
“Despite the divisiveness that characterized the Louisiana state convention initially, we are thankful that the Paul and Romney campaigns took the high road to guarantee the enfranchisement of Republicans whose candidate preferences differ,” wrote Paul national campaign manager John Tate on Sunday.
As to who now controls Louisiana’s 46 delegates to the national convention, the Associated Press counts five for Romney, 10 for Rick Santorum, one for Paul, and 14 unbound delegates that state party officials say they expect to go to Romney.
There were no nominations for 13 of the 16 remaining delegates. “The party says that was done to allow talks with Paul supporters who refused to participate in the convention,” according to the AP account.