Ron Paul's supporters lined up more presidential nominating delegates to the Republican National Convention over the weekend, this time at the Iowa Republican convention in Des Moines.
Paul, a GOP congressman from Texas, took 23 of the 28 delegates up for grabs at the state gathering. State officials say these delegates can vote for the presidential candidate they choose and are not bound to support the winner of the Iowa caucuses last January. Former Sen. Rick Santorum narrowly edged former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Paul finished a close third.
Ron Paul's good weekend showing is part of a pattern that has lasted for many weeks. Paul supporters have succeeded in dominating or exerting a large influence at a series of state conventions and out-maneuvering their political adversaries to accumulate delegates to the national connention. They want to inject Paul's libertarian views into the party platform and take control of state parties over the long term.
Paul admits that he has virtually no chance to overtake Romney for the GOP presidential nomination. But Joe Kurtinitis, a Paul organizer in Iowa, told the Los Angeles Times, "We want to have a real big voice on the plafform; we want to influence the direction of the party more than anything else."
Ron Paul has not backed Romney but his son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, endorsed Romney after making clear that he prefers his father as the nominee but that Ron Paul won't be able to win the nomination.
Pual has said he has 200 delegates who will vote for him and a few hundred more who are his supporters but are bound to vote on the first ballot for Romney, who has won the most primaries, the most popular votes, and the most delegates. Romney has now substantially exceeded the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination, according to the Associated Press.
The Democratic National Committee is starting to stir the pot. A DNC spokesman sent an e-mail to reporters quoting an AP story that said, "Paul backers have taken over state Republican conventions in Nevadai and Maine, and had a strong showing this weekend in Iowa, aiming to increase their voice and clout at the nominating convention in Tampa, Fla." The DNC e-mail also referred to AP reporting that, "Although Romney seldom attacked Paul during the primary campaign, Paul supporters remain cool to him. Many consider Romney part of the GOP establishment's complicity in the soaring federal debt, another top concern for Paul. Pau may speak at thte national convention as it's become customary for onetime rivals to take the podium to show unity. But supporters have faced some resistance to their plans to hold a three-day Paul rally on the eve of the convention.".
Ken Walsh covers 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.