The Daily Beast finds something untoward about the energy and intelligence of Ron Paul fans in the Republican Party, with a headline "How Ron Paul's Minions Plan to Hijack the GOP Convention." Shocking details of the crime-in-progress, from Georgia where Ron Paul people know the GOP rules in ways others do not:
The Paul campaign has rigorously organized its volunteers to attend the mass precinct meetings that took place all over Georgia. It has been instructing supporters on parliamentary procedure and state Republican rules. It is also giving advice on convention etiquette….
A Paul supporter in my hometown of Warner Robins, GA described how the strategy played out at Houston County's mass precinct meeting last Saturday. (Video of the meeting is available here.) The story he tells, and one I've corroborated with other witnesses, is one of chaos. The GOP county leadership is aware of the strength of the Paul wave, but handcuffed by state party rules designed to bolster the party by allowing large numbers of people to get involved.
These meetings have not always been well attended, so it becomes common practice for names to be added to delegate lists, even if those people are not present at the meeting. The low attendance coupled with the openness to adding random names to delegate lists leaves them vulnerable to insurgencies like Paul's. Knowing this, the Paul campaign had distributed lists of local supporters' names to attendees. It instructed supporters to fill in the vacant slots with loyal names.
My friend described the disruption that followed:
Near the end of the caucusing it became known that names were being nominated as delegates who were not present at the meeting. This practice was encouraged by the Ron Paul campaign which has made it clear that they are running a delegate strategy. When the chairperson caught word of this, confusion ensued. He instructed everyone that this was not permissible under the rules and the crowd shouted back. However this is acceptable and the Ron Paul campaign had even directed its delegates to the state rulebook for proof.
Members of the county leadership, especially those with "Newt Gingrich 2012" stickers, did not have a pleasant and supportive attitude during this process. It also became clear to me at this point that the people who knew the rules were Ron Paul supporters. There were dozens of people, mainly young and middle aged, who reacted to this controversy exactly as the Ron Paul delegates were trained to do.
I have seen a few comments about this event afterwards, and one specifically complained that the Ron Paul backers attempted to hijack the event and they caused all the problems. From what I saw the Ron Paul supporters were very close to a majority if they did not have one outright at the meeting. It is my understanding that this event was the other way around, the county GOP leadership attempted to hijack the meeting away from the majority.
Members of the GOP may try and find other ways to block Paul's supporters, but their options are limited when the Paul campaign uses each state's Republican Party rules against it. The evidence suggests that events like this one in central Georgia are playing out all across the nation.
*Meanwhile, Paul came in a distant second in the Washington state caucus straw vote on Saturday. A Ron Paul supporter has a first-person account of would-be caucusers being turned away in droves in Benton County, Washington, with the Tacoma News-Tribune's site reporting 1,500 turned away.
As the comment thread in this Politico account (which assumed against evidence in the headline that Benton County was Santorum country) makes clear, supporters of all candidates were turned away, and so there's no way to know if they would have voted statistically differently enough from those who did vote to change the county's results from a Romney victory. Still, one more blow to the integrity of the caucus process after troubles in Iowa and Maine both lead to state GOP chairs stepping down.
Meanwhile, Associated Press reports someone was trying to quell voter turnout in Washington with robocalls announcing that the whole caucus has been called off.
A video of Ron Paul people announcing their own collected data of the actual delegate counts coming out of a bunch of Washington precinct meetings.
*Also, a video of a county GOP convention in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, in which Ron Paul people fight back (and win) over a bunch of Paul supporters whose delegate credentials were being temporarily denied. Oklahoma's Tuttle Times with a detailed account of how the whole precinct-to-district-convention delegate selection process works in that state.
*Ron Paul tells Face the Nation he has hopes for winning a majority of delegates Super Tuesday in caucus polls in Alaska, North Dakota, and Idaho.
Regardless of tomorrow, the Detroit Free Press argues that the GOP race will be a live contest through to California.
My forthcoming book, Ron Paul's Revolution.