More from the world of news and commentary regarding Ron Paul--last candidate challenging currently ahead Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nod--continuing to win control of delegations and state party apparati:
Politico does a decent job trying to explain the technicalities of how his people are doing what they are doing in caucus states, and what it might mean. Excerpts:
The caucuses — which Romney won handily — are simply the first step in selecting delegates to the national convention....
At the caucuses, delegates to the county convention are elected. At the county convention, state delegates are elected. And at the state convention, national delegates are elected.
Generally, it doesn’t matter who actually goes as a delegate because the nominee is already decided.
In this case, Paul’s supporters have decided to see the process through, flooding the conventions at the county and state levels with enough supporters to elect Paul loyalists to the national convention....
Generally, when one candidate opens up an insurmountable lead, the other candidates will drop out and all of the delegates will back the nominee apparent. Paul is intent on testing the question of: Well, what happens if you don’t drop out?....
Politico then sheds light on what have become two big hopes of Paul fans as they muse on what they can do to shake things up at the Tampa convention. First, "Rule 38":
Rule 38 is a favorite of Paul supporters because it seems to imply that the state is not allowed to bind delegates at all.
Referred to as the Unit Rule, the measure says “no delegate or alternate delegate shall be bound” by any state’s attempt to impose the “unit rule.”
According to Josh Putnam, a scholar on the presidential nominating process at Davidson College in North Carolina, the rule is a throwback from the days when party bosses would strong-arm a state delegation into backing a single candidate.
Most party officials and observers say it doesn’t apply to states that have binding caucuses.
The problem for the Republican National Committee, as Putnam notes, is that the rule is still on the books and opens up an interpretation argument for Paul’s backers.
And the ever-popular "abstention" rather than casting a bound vote for Romney first-round.
RNC rules clearly say a delegate can abstain from the vote. Wouldn’t that set Paul loyalists free from voting for Romney?
Well, probably not.
In practice, when a majority of delegates decide they are going to abstain from the nominating vote, that state’s delegation is skipped over in the roll call.
Putnam said the rules aren’t clear what happens after all of the states vote and the skipped states get a second shot at it. If they abstain again, it could create an endless “feedback loop where the convention gets stuck.”
But Nevada Republican Secretary Jim DeGraffenreid notes that the roll-call vote doesn’t allow individual delegates to shout out their vote.
Instead, the delegation chair submits the state’s total. In Nevada’s case, the chair would shout out 20 votes for Romney and eight for Paul.
Any delegate looking to circumvent that bind would likely be replaced by an alternate delegate, DeGraffenreid said. And all of the alternates elected at the state convention are Romney supporters.
*Washington Post weighs in on what Paul delegates can or might do in Tampa, and beyond:
As his numbers grow, so does Paul’s ability to disrupt the convention’s rituals of Republican unity: His supporters might be able to put Paul forward for the nomination, or to vote against the GOP’s official platform.
“The Paul folks don’t necessarily have to play the usual game. And by at least holding the threat of embarrassing [Romney] at the convention ... they can hope to leverage something,” said Josh Putnam, a professor at Davidson College in North Carolina who studies the minutiae of delegate selection. “What that is, I have no earthly idea.”
But so far, Paul’s campaign has not actually threatened this kind of disruption. The reason, Paul’s advisers said, is that Paul’s long-term goal is not to fracture the GOP — but, over time, to remake it in his own libertarian image....
So it would be counter-productive to embarrass other Republicans now with a screaming-match convention that weakens the party’s nominee.
Seen in that light, what does Paul’s current delegate strategy mean?
“The future. The sun also rises. I’ll put it that way. It means that congressman has a son who’s a U.S. senator. That’s what it means,” said Wead, Paul’s senior adviser.
*Interesting account from Maine by Mike Tipping at Downeast.com about the Paul people's victory there, and whether it could be subject to legal or procedural challenge from Romney forces:
I haven’t yet seen any clear evidence (despite many the rumors and claims) of any procedural problems significant enough to overturn the Results and if Mitt Romney or national Republicans make a challenge, it will only lead to less unity, not more, going into their premiere pre-election event. I expect Romney and Paul will make a quiet deal and that Paul, now having won pluralities in enough states to have his name entered into contention, will extract some significant considerations, including a prime speaking spot.
For the most part, what I saw in the convention coverage was the Ron Paul folks following the rules in a disciplined way and using party regulations and parliamentary procedures to their advantage. I’m not sure why anyone was surprised at their strength or their commitment, and I’m not sure why the result was considered a “take-over.” ...
It’s not like the Paul people in Maine are some kind of alien army. In fact, they are basically the same group that has had control of the Republican Party in Maine since the Tea Party takeover and the election of Paul LePage two years ago...
As for the legitimacy of the proceedings, even Maine GOP Chair Charlie Webster, lately the leading antagonists of the Ron Paul supporters, said that the votes were conducted properly and that the delegates should be seated...
There were dirty tricks though--but against Paul:
According to a number of delegates who have posted videos and personal accounts online, certain individuals at the convention distributed stickers meant to mimic ones printed by the Paul camp which were meant to allow supporters of the Texas Congressman to vote for all their candidates at once. The imitation stickers swapped out the Paul delegates for a slate backing Romney....
Two individuals have been identified as participating in this attempt to sow convention confusion. One is Maine House Majority Office Policy Aide David Sorensen, who reportedly nominated the fake Paul slate from the floor. Before and during the convention, Sorensen mocked the Paul people, who he termed “Ronulans,” on Twitter...
Paul supporters fault Sorensen both for engaging in a dirty trick and for taking precious convention time with his actions and making the entire event take longer, possibly costing the state party extra money in rental fees for the Civic Center.
“A lot of Republicans are making a fuss out of this, at least in Androscoggin County,” said Chris Dixon, a convention delegate who witnessed some of Sorensen’s actions and has written about them on Twitter and on a Ron Paul forum. “A bunch of us really want clarification on it, because here’s someone who’s directly employed by the party who’s doing a deliberate sabotage effort. He’s cau sing disarray for whatever reason and putting the Party on the hook for $20,000.”
Sorensen, reached for comment, repeatedly and pointedly refused to discuss any aspect of the convention, including the actions of which he is accused.
*Tom Mullen at a Washington Times commmunities page wonders why Romney fans aren't as passionate and smart about the caucus process as Paul's, and thinks its because caucus processes favor the educated and informed voter:
As far as I know, no one has conducted a poll of primary or caucus voters asking them why they did not participate in the delegate selection process. That means that one can only speculate as to why people who support Romney in the popular vote don’t tend to go on to become delegates...
for the most part, one need only be registered to vote in the primary or caucus. In some states, one must be a registered Republican to participate in the popular vote. In others, Democrats and independents can participate.
If one meets those minimal qualifications, one may cast a vote in the primary or caucus. One does not have to be informed on the issues or even know who is running. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all or even most participants in popular votes are uninformed. However, there is no requirement that they are informed and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that this may be a problem.
For example, a CNN poll following the 2008 Republican primary found that John McCain had strong support from voters who said that they disapproved of the Iraq War, even though McCain had recently said that it would be fine with him if the U.S. stayed in Iraq for a hundred years. Were these voters unaware of McCain’s position?...
This could never happen in the delegate selection process. By the time that a candidate for the RNC delegation has participated in the local caucus, the district or county conventions, and finally the state convention, he not only knows who all of the candidates are but can likely recite their policy positions. He’s heard them over and over during that process...
Delegates are also required to be more committed to their candidates than primary voters. Those local, district, county and state conventions aren’t exactly exciting. In fact, they’re downright boring...
So, Romney does overwhelmingly better in contests that don’t require the participants to be informed on the issues or even know all of the candidates....All they have to do is register and make a 15-minute commitment to pull a lever behind a curtain.
Ron Paul does overwhelmingly better in contests that require delegates to commit months of their time to the process, to hear the arguments of the other candidates ad nauseum and make arguments for their own candidate in return, and sometimes even form coalitions with the delegates supporting other candidates in order to achieve common goals.
*Doug Wead, a campaign advisor, talks about the media's (lack of) understanding of the process.
*Business Insider sees signs the Romneyites might actually be getting nervous about Paul's state-level wins.
*International Business Times doesn't see Paul voters defecting en masse to Libertarian Gary Johnson.
*Paul matches Obama 42-42 in new Rasmussen poll.
*In other Paul news,he breakfasts with his political foe, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke. Paul in his career as congressman, often on banking committees with some oversight on the Fed, has done this before; he told me a story of breakfast with Paul Volcker in which the Fed chair wanted to know that morning's gold price first thing. The upshot of this breakfast meeting, Paul jokes to the Wall Street Journal: "He’s for the gold standard now."
*My out-soon book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.