Tension is growing between supporters of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and backers of GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney at state conventions and other party gatherings around the country as the Paul maneuvers for maximum leverage at the Republican National Convention in August and beyond.
One of the latest flashpoints has been Idaho, where Paul forces are trying to supplant Romney backers as delegates to the national convention even though Romney finished first at the state's nominating caucuses March 6. Addressing the resentment being generated against Paul in some GOP quarters, John Tate, Paul's campaign manager, issued a statement condemning attempts to stage a "hostile takeover" of state parties or state delegations to the national convention.
Also last weekend, Paul supporters booed Josh Romney, one of the frontrunner's sons, as he sought votes for his father at the Arizona state convention.
Meanwhile, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ron Paul's son, says that Republican stalwarts shouldn't see Ron Paul's backers as enemies, and that all conservatives should work together to advance their shared agenda. Paul told a conservative audience in Iowa that some party officials are upset because his father's supporters have defeated them for delegate slots or positions in the party organization but he added: "We're all in this together." Rand Paul also made fun of Obama's support for gay marriage Friday, saying he hadn't thought Obama's views "could get any gayer." The Kentucky senator added: "He said the biblical golden rule caused him to be for gay marriage. I'm, like, what version of the Bible is he reading?....The family is really important and we shouldn't just give up on it."
Some conservatives see Rand Paul as a natural successor to his 76-year-old father as a leader of libertarians.
As for the Ron Paul movement, it appears that the Texas congressman's forces are moving more aggressively than ever to pick up nominating delegates at the state, county, and district level, even though he has not won a single state nominating contest. But he has outmaneuvered Romney and captured more delegates than expected in states such as Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, and Nevada.
Paul strategists say other priority states include Idaho, Missouri, and Texas.