Texas congressman Ron Paul, who is the sole remaining challenger to presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, has notched up victories in Nevada and Maine after his supporters won big majorities of the delegates the states will send to the party’s Tampa convention.
Though Romney is certain to still be the party’s choice to face off against President Barack Obama, the Paul campaign is still pursuing its delegate strategy whereby activists use complex party rules to secure places in Tampa that often far outweigh the support the campaign won at the ballot box in the caucuses or primaries.
Paul has so far not won a single state by a popular vote. Instead his aim is to amass enough delegates to Tampa to ensure a powerful bloc of supporters that will help him promote his libertarian-leaning ideas, possibly via nominating him from the convention floor and forcing a vote with Romney that will embarrass party chiefs keen on giving an impression of Republican unity.
He has already won significant delegate numbers from states like Louisiana and Massachusetts that greatly improved on the numbers he won at the actual ballot. Now, in meetings held over the weekend by state Republican parties in Maine and Nevada, Paul’s supporters have emerged as the largest groups in those states, despite the fact Romney won them both by popular vote.
In a statement, the Paul campaign said it expected to get 20 delegates from Maine out of a total of 24. In Nevada the campaign said its supporters now made up 22 out of 28 delegates that state will send to Tampa.
Experts say the campaign has been able to use its supporters’ enthusiasm and organising ability to promote its backers into positions of power within local state parties and then get it’s supporters nominated as delegates. “We’re extraordinarily pleased with the victories Ron Paul supporters achieved this weekend… Republican party activists with Paul leanings are affirming the campaign’s delegate win strategy and making lasting inroads into the party infrastructure,” said campaign manager John Tate.
Party rules will still ensure Romney is chosen in Tampa. Many states bind their delegations to vote for whoever won their straw poll, no matter who they actually support.
But Paul’s campaign is betting that it will be able to amass enough support to be able to negotiate with the Romney team for key concessions on policy, prime time speeches in Tampa or even potential cabinet positions in any future Romney administration.
[Image via Gage Skidmore]