Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Ron Paul’s End Game

While most people have been focused on the general election news, Ron Paul has quietly continued to rack up delegates in the Republican primaries. This weekend he pulled off two delegate majority victories at the Maine and Nevada conventions, causing some to wonder what exactly he’s aiming for:

Ron Paul scored big victories at the Maine and Nevada Republican Party conventions on Sunday. In both states his forces won the majority of delegates to this summer’s national GOP convention in Tampa, Fla.

As we noted Sunday, this means Mr. Paul’s strategy of organizing the grass roots and working arcane delegate selection rules is paying off. And that could mean big trouble for Mitt Romney and his plans to smoothly pivot to a campaign aimed solely at incumbent President Obama.

Yes, Mr. Romney is still the presumptive nominee. It’s highly unlikely Paul will be able to deny the former Massachusetts governor the prize he’s sought for so long. But Paul’s forces aren’t lining up and saluting a Romney victory. When they show up in Tampa in August they may be strong enough, and prepared enough, to throw the convention floor into embarrassing disarray.

Anyone who has been to a conservative political convention knows that Ron Paul supporters are old hands at causing “embarrassing disarray,” but it doesn’t seem likely that Paul would have racked up all of this support and goodwill from the party only to throw it all away by wreaking havoc at the convention. And the idea that Paul is in this to try to steal or withhold the nomination from Romney also seems unlikely. If true, why wouldn’t he have hit Romney much harder when he was higher in the polls and had the opportunity?

No, this still seems to be about his legacy and successor. Paul’s collection of delegates is a way to display his power at the convention. He can bring his substantial group of ragtag supporters into the GOP fold before handing off the baton to his son Rand, who has always been better at bridging the divide between the establishment and the grassroots than his father.