Speculation about the size of the Ron Paul presence at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August has some Mitt Romney operatives in a panic. What is worrisome are the additional numbers of “stealth delegates” now winning positions in state conventions and going to Tampa as Mitt Romney delegates. The question is this, how many Ron Paul supporters will actually be on the floor? And what will they be able to do?
Meanwhile, some journalists are scrambling in embarrassment, having assured their corporate masters that the whole drama is over. But if Ron Paul can take delegates in Romney’s home state of Massachusetts, right under his nose, what other surprises are in store?
For the moment, the leading argument inside the Romney camp is being driven by Washington old hands who are urging the campaign to come down hard on the Ronulans, in the tradition of the John McCain – Robert Dole campaigns. Keep the convention tidy, exclusive, show that they are in control and organized.
The counter argument, which comes from some of Romney’s own personal team, is that it is too late, “that ship has already sailed. There will be a sizeable Ron Paul delegation on the RNC floor anyway, we have the nomination, so let’s be nice, let’s take a page from the Reagan playbook and bring them into the fold.” Or so they say.
The immediate question coming to a head this weekend and next is should Ron Paul’s name be allowed in nomination at the RNC in Tampa? If the process is played out naturally, organically, that is exactly what will happen, for Ron Paul will have a plurality in more than the five states required to place his name in nomination. Some in the Romney camp are fine with that. “We need these people for the general election. Let them have their day in the sun. It will add drama and attract a larger viewing audience.”
But the prevailing mood of some in the Romney camp is to shut down the process, to use their power to stop it from happening. It risks angering the Ronulans who will feel cheated by bitter power plays at state conventions this month and next but the Romney Hawks argue that allowing the Ronulans any more room will turn the convention into a fiasco similar to the 1992 convention. That was the year that the RNC had Pat Robertson and insurgent candidate, Pat Buchanan, give speeches and the George HW Bush – Dan Quayle ticket went down in defeat in the general election.
The Romney angels counter that this is not 1992. That Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan represented the most conservative base of the GOP at a time when they should be reaching out to a wider, general audience, while Ron Paul represents youth, Hispanics, independents and even Democrats, the very votes that Romney must now have to win a general election. A recent Rasmussen poll has Ron Paul beating Obama and Romney only tying him. “If we don’t have them in the general election,” say the more angelic Romneyites, “Then we lose.”
Whatever happens, the ball is now in the Mitt Romney court. If the Hawks continue to prevail and they keep playing dirty at the state conventions they will stop Ron Paul from being nominated and probably their own chances of winning a general election. They will also have a sizeable number of angry Ronulans on the floor of the RNC all with iPhone cameras to record every ugly moment of disunity.
What to do?
Next Wednesday, May 9, 2012, will be an important day. I will be online that night at 9PM to talk with anyone who wants to join the discussion. Here is the link.