Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Ron Paul Coup?

Santorum and Gingrich are out of the race and the New York Times is showing Romney with 847 delegates out of the 1,144 needed to win the Republican Presidential nomination.

The view from the Ron Paul camp is they got Romney right where they want him.

New England Liberty Love Fest.

On Saturday I attended the Liberty Love Fest in Worcester, Massachusetts. Ron Paul supporters from all over New England gathered for speeches, music, and an occasional cigarette that didn’t smell like tobacco.

But what really excited the faithful was the outcome of the state GOP caucuses earlier in the day. Although Mitt Romney won the Massachusetts primary on Super Tuesday with a big enough margin to get all 27 delegates up for grabs, when it came time to actually select the delegates at the caucuses, the preliminary result was more than half went to Ron Paul. The Boston Globe explained, “The complexion of the delegation may not matter much to Romney’s nomination: All delegates and alternates are committed to vote for him. But the delegates will get to choose the chairman, vote on a platform, and support whomever they choose for vice president.” (“State GOP’s caucus picks leave Romney slate slighted”, April 30, 2012). As the Globe article notes, the rules commit the delegates to vote for Romney on the first ballot. However, in theory, if they had enough votes, they could change the rules (Ted Kennedy tried that maneuver, unsuccessfully, at the 1980 Democratic Convention).

Since Saturday I’ve encountered similar articles from around the country:

  • PolicyMic, April 29 “Ron Paul Embarrasses Romney Campaign By Winning Louisiana Delegates”
  • PolicyMic, May 1: “Ron Paul Keeps Winning as Supporters Prepare For a Battle With GOP Old Guard”
  • Las Vegas Sun, May 2: “RNC to NV GOP: Don’t let Ron Paul delegates take over national convention slots or don’t bother coming to Tampa”

    Is there a story here, or just wishful thinking by the Ron Paul camp? Hard to say without a clearer idea of the number of delegates involved. What I can say is that if Mitt Romney’s supporters had half as much enthusiasm, persistence, and organization as Ron Paul’s, the November election would be a shoo in for him.


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    2. Cristina and I were there in Framingham for the fifth Congressional district caucus. We participated for the purpose of voting for the Ron Paul delegate slate, having changed our registration earlier this year to vote for Dr. Paul in the primary. It was a surreal experience, getting to see how political sausage is really made.

      It was very well-attended, in retrospect because the Ron Paul people were able to organize and mobilize their people far more effectively that the Republican regulars. The voting was 2 to 1 in favor of the "Liberty" slate over the Romney slate across the board. It was a rout. I was a little sad to see the long-time Romney activists who had worked hard and paid their dues blithely swept aside by the swarm of insurgents, even though I was one of the insurgents.

      The faces of the old-time party stalwarts had a mix of shock, anger, and depression. Clearly they had been complacent, perhaps too entitled. The chairman of the meeting tried to put a positive spin on it, as an event that brought many new, fresh faces into party activism, and that will grow the tent. I hope he is right, but I think that is mostly wishful thinking.

      What I find most interesting is that libertarians in Massachusetts have discovered that we actually do have some muscle. These caucuses have shown that we are close to the strength needed to displace the Republicans as the second party in Massachusetts.

    3. Peter: Thanks for the insightful comments. Got me thinking - maybe the significance of this is not so much what will happen in Tampa in August as what will happen across the country in 2014 and 2016.