Paul is not going to be the Republican nominee for president, and he knows it. By August, Mitt Romney will have long ago accumulated the 1,144 delegates needed to win. But Paul’s forces won’t be inconsiderable. Campaign strategist Jesse Benton estimates that the Texas libertarian will end up with “several hundred” delegates pledged to him, and several hundred more stealth supporters who are bound to vote for Mr. Romney or a withdrawn candidate on the first ballot.
Some of these supporters haven’t given up hope of a Paul victory. In Nevada, for instance, Paul supporters who control the Clark County GOP structure voted to rebuke Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus for his efforts to start merging the Romney and RNC campaign machines.
But Paul campaign officials insist they do not want to cause any kind of disturbance in Tampa. There’s no discussion of getting Paul supporters who are bound to vote for Romney to abstain from casting ballots in the first round, for instance.
“Decorum” will be the name of the game, Mr. Benton said in a recent conference call with supporters. That makes sense when considered in the context of the campaign’s long-term, makeover-of-the-party goal.
“We’re going to respectfully show that our supporters are here, and we’re the wave of the future,” said Benton.