Could Ron Paul really have an impact on the GOP convention?

The Ron Paul campaign issued a memo outlining its strategy to secure 'the greatest possible impact' on the GOP convention. But its influence may be more symbolic than practical.

Ben Margot/AP/File
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul speaks at the University of California at Berkeley in April.

The Ron Paul campaign wants its supporters to remain fired up and ready to go.

One day after announcing that the Texas libertarian will stop campaigning in states that have yet to hold primaries, Paul officials on Tuesday issued a memo outlining their strategy for the GOP convention in Tampa.

What’s the point of this? “Maximizing our resources to ensure the greatest possible impact,” writes Jesse Benton, Paul’s chief strategist.

The Paul people will continue to try and pick up additional delegates at state conventions between now and the national confab in August, notes Benton. He claims that in the end the campaign will have several hundred Paul delegates, combined with several hundred delegates who personally are Paul supporters but are bound to Mitt Romney or one of the withdrawn GOP candidates.

The strategy document admits the obvious fact that Romney, not Paul, is going to be the nominee. But it holds out hope that Paul will be strong enough to influence the party platform.

“Our campaign is presently working to get several items up for consideration, including monetary policy reform, prohibitions on indefinite detention, and Internet freedom,” writes Benton.

What’s going to come of this? Is Paul really going to be a power at the convention?

Well, it’s certainly possible that he’ll get a platform plank calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve, or some other restriction on the Fed’s power. In recent years the GOP as a whole has been moving towards his Fed-critical position. It’s also possible that the convention will approve some sort of vague call for Web freedom. But a prohibition on indefinite detention? That is unlikely to pass muster, given that GOP voters generally are more hawkish on security issues than Paul.

“My best guess? Ron Paul pushes for votes on a few platform issues, and settles for platform committee losses on most of them but gets one or two minor victories, with something about the Fed probably the most likely,” wrote political blogger Jonathan Bernstein Monday in a Washington Post opinion piece.

The other thing Paul appears to be after is comity. In recent weeks his supporters have caused trouble at some state conventions as they push for advantage – in Arizona, for instance, they booed Mitt Romney’s son Josh.

“By sending a large, respectful, and professional delegation to Tampa, we will show the party and the country that not only is our movement growing and here to stay, but that the future belongs to us,” writes strategist Benton.

However, as far as the GOP is concerned, the immediate future belongs to Romney. And the presumptive nominee will be exercising tight control over convention proceedings, as most presumptive nominees do. Will he allow Paul a little room to maneuver? That’s not clear.

It’s true that Romney and Paul have long seemed to get along, personally. But Paul is not offering Romney an endorsement, and he’s not urging his followers to toe the Romney line.

“If Romney wants to win the Paul vote, it seems, it won’t be good enough to put an audit-the-Fed plank in the Republican Party platform. He’d have to actually embrace and campaign on Paul’s issues, which could, in case it needs to be said, be a tricky proposition where the mass of the electorate is concerned,” writes political correspondent Molly Ball of The Atlantic Tuesday.

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