Little did Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) know that when he endorsed former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA)'s bid for the presidency, that he would set the internet ablaze with the protests by angry supporters of his father, Texas Congressman Ron Paul. But, according to Politico, that's exactly what's happened.
The freshman senator said on Thursday night that he supports Romney for president, even though his father has not officially withdrawn from the race. The move was seen by many as a signal that the younger Paul is willing to compromise and work with establishment Republicans.
Politico quoted a Republican strategist who commended the Kentucky senator on what is seen as a savvy career move, "Rand’s endorsement of GOP nominee Mitt Romney clearly shows that in spite of those who try to marginalize him, he has keen set of political instincts and is very much aware that a successful national run will require more than just his father’s loyal following."
Members of that loyal following, however, are not as impressed.
The Libertarian Party issued a blistering statement through the party's website, in which they called Rand a turncoat, a traitor to his father's legacy and a sellout.
"(N)o true libertarian, no true friend of liberty, and no true blue Tea Partier could possibly even consider, much less actually endorse or approve of, the Father of Obamacare, Big Government tax and spender, Republican Mitt Romney," the statement said.
The blog BuzzFeed has collected what it calls, "The Most Overblown Reactions to Rand Paul's Mitt Romney Endorsement" in a post that rounds up screen grabs from Ron Paul supporters on Facebook and the social networking message board Reddit.
"WHY RAND WHY?!" wrote one angry Reddit poster, who included the climactic scene of George Lucas's third "Star Wars" prequel, in which Anakin Skywalker is betrayed and abandoned by Obi Wan Kenobi.
"He bowed to the neocons!!!" wrote another, "WELL LISTEN RAND!!! WE WON'T BOW!!! WE WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR FREEDOM AS YOU BOWED TO THE KILLER GLOBALISTS!!!"
On Facebook, one Ron Paul supporter wrote, "Rand Paul you disgust me."
Romney's former primary opponents Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have said that delegates supporting Ron Paul could create a great deal of disruption at this summer's Republican National Convention. Some have speculated that Rand Paul's statement of support was intended to lay the groundwork for a slot on the ballot as Romney's VP pick, which could be a coup for Romney in that it could bring disaffected Republicans who support Ron Paul back into the electoral fold in time for November.
The 2012 Republican National Convention takes place August 27 to 30 in Tampa, Florida.
[CORRECTION: A previous version of this story attributed the Libertarian Party's statement to former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Johnson has made no such statement.]