The Republican National Convention in Tampa won't be any picnic for presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
It's becoming increasingly clear that it will be difficult for Romney and leaders of the Republican party to orchestrate a smooth nomination process and insure unity at the convention, which starts in three weeks.
One problem will be the GOP's conservative wing, as represented by the Tea Party. The victory of Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz in the Texas Republican primary for the U.S. Senate this week has triggered declarations from Tea Party activists that they will hold Romney to account. 'These guys [Tea Party candidates] are going to force Romney to the right," Andrea Shell, a spokeswoman for the Tea Party-affiliated Freedom Works, told ABC News. "That is our entire mission."
It isn't known how many delegates to the GOP gathering will be Tea Party hard-liners. But a guide to the strength of the hard-line conservative movement could be the power and passion of delegates for Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Paul is a libertarian who remains a GOP presidential candidate even though Romney has locked up a majority of delegates. Paul's delegates, who number in the hundreds, share many of the same objectives as the Tea Party, notably a visceral opposition big government and soaring federal spending.
Some Paul delegates want to force showdowns with Romney forces and establishment Republicans over the GOP platform and over seating pro-Paul delegations versus pro-Romney delegations in various states.
There are currently a number of challenges from both sides to delegations from Maine, Louisiana, and Massachusetts. And, beyond that, there could be fights over Romney's choice of his vice-presidential running mate if conservatives don't deem the selection as sufficiently conservative.
Romney's goal for the convention is simple and straightforward even though it may be difficult to achieve. He wants to use the gathering as a sort of advertisement for himself, to highlight his biography and underscore his criticism of President Obama for what Romney calls a failed presidency, especially when it comes to strengthening the economy and reducing unemployment.
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Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.