TAMPA--Ron Paul made a surprise appearance on the floor of the Republican National Convention Tuesday afternoon, prompting cheers and chants of "President Paul!" and "Let Him Speak" from his delegates.
His visit, first reported here, is designed as a way to show solidarity with his several hundred delegates, many of whom are frustrated and seething because they are being outvoted and, in their minds, shunted aside at the Republican National Convention.
Paul, a GOP congressman from Texas, remains a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination but acknowledges that Mitt Romney long ago accumulated a majority of delegates and will win the roll-call vote Tuesday to secure the nomination.
But Paul supporters feel they have been pushed aside by the convention managers and the party establishment. Paul delegates and others are fighting proposed changes in party rules designed to tie delegates to the results of official nominating caucuses and primaries, rather than allowing delegates to ignore those results and support insurgent candidates at district and state party conventions.
This is what Paul forces did earlier this year in a handful of states, and they say the proposed new rules would shut them out and keep other insurgencies from getting traction in the future.
Another source of irritation for Paul delegates is that he will not be a speaker at the convention, although his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, will be. Rand Paul has endorsed Romney, acknowledging that his father can't win the nomination. Ron Paul has not endorsed Romney.
Some of the hard feelings boiled over Monday when a small group of Paul delegates gathered in the back of the massive convention hall for a protest. A few held signs reading, "We can do better." John Honey, 37, an alternate delegate from Arkansas, told The Washington Post, "We can do better than Romney. Romney may beat Obama. Paul definitely would."
At a rally for Paul Sunday at the University of South Florida Sun Dome, 11,000 people cheered him during a speech and festival dedicated to his campaign. Lorie Siefer, of Biloxi, Mississippi, told my U.S. News colleague Elizabeth Flock, "I won't vote for Romney. Romney and [President] Obama are two sides of the same coin....They tell you what think, how to live your life."
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.
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Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET on 8/28/12