It's crunch time for Ron Paul.
The Republican presidential candidate is hoping that his last hurrah will be positive and inspirational at the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week. But it turns out that he doesn't have a strong hand to play.
This is generating disappointment and anger among some of Paul's supporters, who feel that GOP leaders have shunted them and their hero aside. They are also upset that convention organizers have not invited Paul to address the gathering even though he has about 200 delegates, according to various counts by party officials and the Associated Press.
Paul and his key advisers want to move beyond the negative feelings and set an uplifting tone.
"Our desire is to make it all postive," Doug Wead, a senior Paul adviser, told me Tuesday.
Paul and his inner circle realize that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive nominee, has the overwhelming majority of delegates and a strong hold on the convention apparatus. As various GOP committees meet this week to formulate the party platform and rule on various delegate disputes, it is becoming more evident that Paul's influence will be minimal, Republican strategists tell me.
Formulating the party platform rests firmly in the hands of Romney and his backers, and they are refusing to accept Paul's more dramatic ideas, such as a massive withdrawal of U.S. forces from around the globe and limiting the power of the Federal Reserve.
And Romney forces don't seem inclined to accommodate Paul on major delegate questions, except perhaps by conceding him a handful of delegates here and there to mollify the Paul die-hards. Party leaders are currently assessing competing claims from Romney and Paul about who should control the delegations from Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, and Oregon.
Faced with this rough road, what may be left for Paul supporters is to concentrate on a rally they are organizing in the Tampa area to honor their libertarian-oriented candidate, who is retiring as a GOP congressman from Texas this year. It's scheduled for Sunday, the eve of the convention, and Paul is scheduled to speak on Sunday afternoon.
Another factor causing Paul to be conciliatory is that he doesn't want to cause problems for his son, Rand, a Republican senator from Kentucky, who has been given a speaking role at the convention and is a favorite among conservative Tea Party activists. Many of them see Rand Paul as a leader for the future. Rand Paul, acknowledging that his father can't win the nomination, has endorsed Romney. Ron Paul hasn't.
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 in the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.