Ron Paul suffered a setback in his effort to have a major impact on the Republican National Convention when an arm of the Republican National Committee rejected a slate of Paul delegates from Louisiana to the national gathering later this month.
The RNC's Committee on Contests dismissed Paul's challenge to the delegation chosen by party regulars in Louisiana at the state party convention in Shreveport during early June. The committee decided last weekend that the state party's executive committee had the authority to issue "supplemental rules" that resulted in therejection of Paul delegates and the seating of delegates backed by the party regulars who support presumptive nominee Mitt Romney.
"We are disappointed and are fighting tooth and nail," John Tate, Paul's campaign manager, told me in an E-mail. "This was but the first step. We are appealing their wrongheaded decision and will be taking it to the credentials committee."
Paul supporters, however, argue that the regulars broke the rules by rejecting Paul's delegates. The Paul forces can now challenge the Committee on Contests decision before the Credentials Committee or before the full convention, although neither tactic is likely to work because Romney controls a majority of delegates.
Paul supporters had been hoping that he would be given a major speaking role at the convention to disseminate his libertarian views as a presidential candidate. But the RNC hasn't announced any such speaking slot, although Ron Paul's son, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, will speak at the convention. Rand Paul endorsed Romney once it became clear that Ron Paul couldn't win the GOP nomianation.
Hopes also appear to be fading that Paul forces will be able to steer the GOP platform in the direction of Paul's philosophy, such as his support for ending U.S. military interventions around the world.
The rejection of Paul's delegates from Louisiana signals that the national party is intent on making the convention a celebration of Romney's nomination rather than allowing serious debate that could send a message of GOP disunity.
Several other disputes are underway as Paul forces struggle with party regulars over the makeup of delegations from states such as Maine, Massachusetts, and Oregon.
Ken Walsh overs the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," on usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column in the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.
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UPDATE: 08/13/12, 3:30 p.m.: This story was updated with comment from John Tate, Ron Paul's campaign manager.