Is Ron Paul getting a raw deal from the Republican National Committee? That’s the question among some of his committed supporters as Mr. Paul and the RNC near an agreement intended to ensure harmony on the floor at next week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Yes, the developing pact ensures that the Texas congressman, who was among the last to fall out of the GOP race for the party's nomination, will get 17 of Louisiana’s 46 delegates. Yes, Paul’s camp is working to settle outstanding disputes regarding delegates from Massachusetts and Maine.
But many Paul foot soldiers believed that they had already won control of the Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Maine delegations at state party conventions. They feel Mitt Romney’s campaign is now yanking away those victories by charging that they were the result of procedural irregularities.
In recent days, the Paul Twitterverse and message boards on Paul websites have lit up with angry comments about the emerging Paul-Romney détente.
“The GOP acts like this is some sort of game show,” wrote one commentator on the Daily Paul comment forum Wednesday.
“I remember a time, not too long ago, where WE would be the ones giving [Romney] 17 delegates and keeping the rest. And, now? NO MORE COMPROMISING!” wrote another.
For its part, Paul HQ is urging calm. Throughout the campaign Paul and Mr. Romney appeared to be the two GOP contenders with the best relationship. Paul’s aides have long said that they do not want their supporters to be disruptive in Tampa and that their long-term goal is to push the Republican Party in a more libertarian direction from within.
Settling the Louisiana dispute was a huge step forward, according to Paul campaign officials. The state party convention in Shreveport in June was chaotic. At one point a convention chairman elected by Paul supporters was injured by security guards intent on his removal. The Paul and Romney camps ended up holding separate conventions and submitting separate lists of delegates to the RNC.
A deal to seat a portion of Paul’s Massachusetts delegates is also close, Paul campaign strategist Jesse Benton told the Associated Press. Maine? Well....
“Maine is still unsettled, but talks are continuing and the conversation remains respectful,” Mr. Benton told the AP.
The bottom line is that presumptive nominee Romney has just about ensured that Paul won’t bolt and hold a separate protest rally outside the convention venue, as he did in 2008 in St. Paul, Minn. That means he can present the picture of a united GOP to the nation during the Republican convention.
Meanwhile, Paul has been able to influence the party platform, via language calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve, and a plank on Internet freedom that reflects Paulian views.
But as Mr. Putnam and other experts have pointed out, there’s been something of a divergence developing in recent months between Paul and some Paul supporters. While the Paul campaign has been urging decorum, some Paulites have gone rogue, urging confrontation with the GOP powers-that-be in the name of libertarianism.
In May, for instance, Paul supporters at the GOP convention in Nevada's Clark County pushed through a resolution calling for RNC chief Reince Priebus to resign because he’d merged party fundraising with Romney’s efforts.
That’s why it’s going to be interesting to see what the tone will be at Paulfest, or Paulstock, or whatever you want to call the Aug. 26 Paul “We Are the Future” rally scheduled for the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome. Beginning at noon, the proceedings will run for five hours and feature speeches from former congressman Barry Goldwater Jr., son of the 1964 Republican standard-bearer, and grass-roots Paul campaign leaders.
Noted blues guitarist Jimmy Vaughan is scheduled to play, and the master of ceremonies will be Doug Wead, a former Bush official and often-cited chronicler of presidential family history. Could be fun! “Ronvoys” are carrying supporters from many states to the festivities.
“Ron Paul’s rally will enable supporters, the public, and media to further witness the ideas and people that are the future of the Republican Party," said Benton, the Paul aide, in a statement outlining the Paulfest program.