The Last Gasps of the Ron Paul Movement
And how the GOP’s new rules are meant to make sure no one rises to replace him.
Photograph by David Weigel.
Read the rest of Slate’s coverage from the GOP convention.
TAMPA – Sen. Rand Paul was trapped in a corner. It’d been like this all afternoon. He’d been walking the floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, hounded by reporters, having the same conversation with every delegate loyal to his father’s campaign as bulky cameras nosed in. They were diehards, angry that a quick vote on the Republican National Convention platform had affirmed a rule that blocked some of their fellow delegates. David Jaques, an Oregon “Ron Paul follower for 20-plus years” told the senator that he still wanted to put the candidate’s name into nomination. The senator kept telling him not to.
“It does break my heart,” he said. “But we fight on. We won’t stop. We’ve just got to follow the rules.”
“We tried to play by the rules in Oregon,” said Jaques, “and they just threw ‘em out the window.”
Sen. Paul reasoned with him. “Realize, as I go about this room, hundreds of people have come up to me,” he said. “There is support out here. We’re not gonna win this time. Maybe next time. Maybe the time after. The party can only grow bigger, and there’s only so many places they can win without us.”
Right then a short, white-bearded man marched past Sen. Paul, over to his chief of staff, Doug Stafford. It was Ben Ginsberg—veteran of the Bush-Gore recounts, top legal macher for Mitt Romney, “the lawyer for the Republican establishment,” author of a new Republican National Committee rule that would bind delegates more closely to winning candidates. Ginsburg, carrying a sheaf of papers, leaned in and buttonholed Stafford.
“I’ve got your guys trying to put Paul’s name into nomination,” he said, pointing at the papers. “Right here, buddy.”
Ginsberg, having delivered the message, kept on walking. Stafford didn’t know what to say. “He was yelling so much that I couldn’t hear him,” he explained.
But Ginsberg had nothing to worry about. There would be no nominating Ron Paul from the floor. John Sununu—who had just gotten the new rules pushed through the committee—nominated Mitt Romney for president. Nobody nominated Ron Paul. After each state announced its delegate totals, only Romney’s totals were repeated and put on the convention’s mega-screens.
The Paul fans, with a combination of irritation and acceptance, would try and amend that by—what else?—yelling. It went like this:
State: Missouri casts four votes for Ron Paul, and 45 votes for the next president of the United States, Mitt Romney!
Chair: Missouri: 45, Romney!
Whole bunch of people: And four for Ron Paul!
David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at email@example.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.