Ron Paul: The War Against His Delegates, and Against His Importance

GQ focuses on the Republican Party's shoddy treatment and eventual booting of elected delegates from Massachusetts for the crime of supporting Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Highlights:

as enterprising Paul supporters in several states have discovered...Paulites [can] run for—and win—those [delegate] slots, so long as they pledge to vote for Romney on the first ballot. [Ed] Rombach and his cohorts formed what they called the Liberty Slate, and wouldn't you know it, they won 35 of the state's 54 openings. In many cases they beat out party big shots like Kerry Healey, Romney's lieutenant governor and an advisor on his campaign. Each of the Paul delegates had pledged to uphold the rules and vote for Romney on the first ballot. 

All good, right? Americans getting involved in the process and following the rules to enliven and strengthen our democracy? Yes?

No. Several weeks after the caucuses, all of the winning Liberty Slate delegates got letters in the mail from the state Republican party, demanding they sign an enclosed affidavit, swearing "under pain and penalty of perjury" to vote for Romney at the convention. Signed, notarized copies were to be returned to party headquarters by a date and time certain. The Paulites didn't like the smell of this: Mass GOP had never required an affidavit before, nor had anyone mentioned one at the caucuses. And the wording of the document seemed overly severe. What if Romney for some reason were to drop out before August? Would the Liberty Delegates then be perjuring themselves by voting for someone else? They long ago accepted that Ron Paul won't be president—Rombach actually used those words with me— and their goals for Tampa were more modest. They wanted to contribute to the visibility of the Paul minority and support the addition of platform planks concerning Paul's top issues, the Fed and undeclared wars. The affidavit exercise seemed beside the point.

In the end, most of them decided to return instead a "Liberty Affirmation," making the same pledge but without Romney's name in it. Some returned both versions. Some were late with the delivery. In June, 17 of the 35 Liberty Delegates, including an 18-year-old who'd edged out two former gubernatorial candidates for his spot, were informed by mail that they were being tossed. No going to Tampa. No being part of the process. No further explanation. Going in their place were the next-highest vote-getters—including Kerry Healey and others from the establishment crowd.

Who is to blame?

When I asked the Romney campaign why the 17 delegates had been rejected, they referred me to the Massachusetts Republican Party. But the party, in a statement from the Allocation Committee chairman, says it was the Romney campaign's decision to bounce the 17 Paul supporters: 

"Governor Romney's campaign, through its representative on the Allocation Committee, made the decision not to certify certain delegates and alternate delegates who were unwilling to sign and return on time the affidavit sent out by the Allocation Committee affirming that they would cast their vote for Governor Romney at the National Convention in Tampa," the statement reads. It concludes with the committee's agreement that the dispute over affidavits constituted "'just cause' for not being certified as national delegates."

The state party spokesman would not address the fact that the affidavit requirement had come out of nowhere, and weeks late. Nor would he explain, on the record, how the decision been made to force those 35 delegates, already pledged to Romney, to make yet another commitment. The most I could glean was some dark hinting about the Liberty delegates' online histories—Facebook and blog posts—as proof that they couldn't be trusted to vote for Romney, despite their verbal pledge at the caucuses.

Previous blogging from me on Paul's (now stymied) delegate success in Massachusetts.

*The lefty-media-bias watchers at Newsbusters, meanwhile, are annoyed with Rachel Maddow for talking about a not-much-talked about topic: the rising opposition Ron Paul movement in the GOP, and the possibility of him winning outright the delegation from Nebraska. (I blogged about what that means the other day.) While it remains to be seen, of course, how much impact they will end up having--and Tampa will only be the beginning of that story, not the end--I think it's Newsbusters rather than Maddow who are evading reality here by ignoring the importance of Paul and his supporters. (Newsbusters implication that Maddow is saying or imagining Paul will actually win the nomination is their own warping of reality, not hers.)

One of Maddow's recent Paul bits:

In other Paul news, his former campaign press maven Gary Howard is hired by the RNC, pissing off both Paulites and anti-Paulites; and Cincinnati-based Fox TV reporter Ben Swann thinks by some interpretations Paul already has the control of five state's delegations he needs to be officially nominated from the floor.

My new book, Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

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