Election 2012

Ron Paul: Lost Nebraska, But Can He Still Speak in Tampa? Or Be Nominated for VP?


Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) failed to pull a delegate strategy last-minute save of his GOP presidential run in Nebraska over the weekend---failed big, with Paul pulling just two of the state's 35 delegates.

Thus, as media all over the world are reporting, this means Paul doesn't have the requisite five state control to get formally nominated from the floor in Tampa and earn a 15-minute speaking slot.

For the most detailed, though often perplexing, account of what actually happened, see this Daily Paul comment thread, with link to livestream coverage that seems to be archived.

The New American on the only controversial part of the convention, and on hope for the future:

The only controversy at the Nebraska convention was whether to unseat party establishment delegates from Buffalo and Dodge Counties, and to instead seat delegates from rump conventions won by the Paul campaign. Paul supporters had complained of the procedures used by those two county's party leaders in county conventions back in June, and left Buffalo and Dodge GOP conventions to hold their own conventions and nominate their own candidates.

Ron Paul's rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired

The Nebraska-based Grand Island Independent reported July 14 of the state convention that efforts to remove the establishment candidates and put in Paul delegates failed. "The motion lost with 125 in favor and 185 opposed. After losing by 60 votes, no attempt was made to strike the Buffalo County delegation." Romney, who had won 71 percent of the state primary vote, also clearly had control of a majority of the state convention's delegates. 

The Buffalo County GOP convention in June was the most controversial. GOP leaders there forced a rump Ron Paul convention with its own slate of delegates, the same delegates not recognized at the state convention. 

Ron Paul forces expressed resolution to press on, despite the setback. "We'll be back in two years and in four years," Paul supporter Laura Ebke told the Grand Island Independent. Indeed, Ron Paul supporters seem only destined to grow. The Independent notedthat at a Ron Paul reception the evening before the convention that "Ebke said she asked people at the reception how many of them were under age 35 and she said 75 percent of them raised their hands."

Some Paulites say all this reporting about Paul's final defeat in Nebraska is part of a conspiratorial scam to slow down the momentum of Paul's supporters. Ben Swann, a local Fox TV reporter from Cincinatti, always big in examining the technicalitarian end of the Paul world's hopes, says today that an (unnamed) member of the Rules Committee of the RNC assured him that Paul can still be nominated.

Here's why, from a Swann Facebook post:

I have been in touch with a member of the RNC Rules committee over the past 4 days and have been able to confirm a few FACTS about the nomination process.

1. For a candidate's name to be placed into nomination at the RNC you DO need a plurality of delegates from 5 states.

2. Binding and Non-binding distinctions DO NOT have an affect on nominating a candidates name. If "binding" is allowable by rule, (it is not) it would only pertain to a vote taken on the nomination, not the process of placing a name in nomination.

3. The Ron Paul campaign HAS the majority of delegates in the following 5 states: Nevada, Maine, Minnesota, Louisana, Iowa. He MAY have the majority in Massachusetts and Colorado.

It all hinges, in Swann's take, on the "binding/non-binding" distinction. While some Paulites hold on to the hope that there is legally no such thing as a "bound" delegate, Swann is here saying that even if Nevada's delegation majority is bound to vote for Romney for president on first ballot, this does not preclude them from showing their true Paul preferences in a nominating vote.

I have a call and email in to the RNC on this point but got no clarification as of around the end of their working day, but will update when and if authoritative clarification comes in.

Regardless, Paul is running a pre-RNC festival, and his fans are running another one, so Tampa should still be full of Paul news, and the world of American politics will continue to be, as much as some might regret it, like Esquire's reliably awful Charles Pierce.

Business Insider  is reporting rumors that the Paul people may achieve their goal (for what it's worth) of getting "audit the Fed" into the GOP platform.

Jeff Taylor, an actual RNC delegate, at American Conservative had a long, interesting piece on what Paul delegates can do in Tampa anyway, what Romney should do, and the history of non-unity at GOP conventions. Some highlights:

While some Paul backers are sore losers, it is equally true that some Romney backers are sore winners. What would it cost Governor Romney and the RNC to announce that they are waiving the five-state Rule 40 requirement and allowing Congressman Paul to have his moment in the sun at the convention? Far from hurting the Romney campaign, it would be a magnanimous gesture from a position of strength. It would serve to placate Paul supporters, as a show of respect, and to unify the party….

Allowing Ron Paul to be placed in nomination, allowing an old-fashioned demonstration to occur on the convention floor, and allowing unbound delegates to pay tribute to their champion by casting votes without pressure or hostility would be a wise move by Romney. Far from being an embarrassment or a sign of divisiveness, it would denote strength of personal character and political position. This would preempt "convention chaos" and let the Paul campaign be more persuasive in its attempt to keep its delegates respectful and on-task….

Remember, as Taylor spells out at length: George Romney remained an enemy of GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater through the convention in 1964 and beyond, and had votes for himself recorded from the floor of the convention in both '64 and '68 despite having no chance of winning.

And what about the vice-presidency?

Paul may not have the five-state pluralities to allow him to officially "seek" the presidential nomination at the convention, but delegates who are bound to Romney for president are not bound to anyone for vice president. In other words, Paul supporters from Nevada who are obligated to vote for Romney on the first ballot for president are free to vote for whomever they choose on the balloting for vice president (if there is balloting). Paul apparently does have a plurality of stealth/actual supporters in at least five states, thus qualifying as a candidate who could be placed in nomination for vice president. Delegates themselves could initiate this move at the convention, although presumably Paul would need to agree to the effort to bring it to its speech-making and roll-call-voting fruition. 

A challenge from the convention floor over the vice presidential nomination has precedents. At the 1976 Republican National Convention, the California and Texas delegations were the backbone of the Ronald Reagan effort in Kansas City. After the liberal Ford had defeated the conservative Reagan, Ford chose a Ford backer, the moderate Robert Dole, as his running mate. The Texas delegation was so conservative that it was the only state to give a majority of its votes to men more conservative than Dole when voting on the vice presidential nomination. Jesse Helms received 43 from Texas, Dole received 26, and Reagan received 9, among others. Who was the chairman of the 100-member, 100-percent Reagan-supporting Texas delegation at the 1976 convention? Congressman Ron Paul…..

Once again, the legacy of George Romney is instructive. It's the presidential nominee's prerogative to select his own running mate. That has been the norm for many decades. The convention normally accepts the vice presidential choice by acclamation. At the 1968 convention, however, some liberals were dissatisfied with Nixon's choice of Spiro Agnew. Although he was from the liberal wing of the party himself, Governor Agnew had turned against Rockefeller and had embraced Nixon and right-wing rhetoric for political reasons. Some liberal delegates proposed Governor Romney as an alternative. Romney allowed his name to be placed in nomination for vice president. Not surprisingly, Agnew beat him 1,119 to 186, but the protest nomination was allowed and the votes were recorded….

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