Dispatches From the Republican National Convention
Entry 6: Wait, what was that? The sound of Ron Paul losing.
Illustration by Robert Neubecker.
John and Sasha,
Sorry for the delay, but Ron Paul’s supporters ended up getting angry. When that happens, cameras materialize from behind curtains, foreign reporters get confused and think they’re reporting on a secession, and I walk around the convention floor until my floor-pass timer runs out. (You get an hour a pop with these things. Tough but fair.)
You’ve been talking about aesthetics and how carefully Romney’s people shaped this thing. The Great Ron Paul Revolt may not affect any of that. Come Wednesday, the heavily reported stories of RNC rules 12 and 15 will be forgotten. Ryanmania will be our guide.
Still! It felt like the Romney planners could have soothed the Paul folks if they threw them some bones. Small ones. Ankles or clavicles. All the Paul people wanted were 1) the seating of all their Maine delegates, won at the state convention; 2) Paul’s name offered into nomination; and 3) the nixing of a new rule that would allow presidential candidates to select the “unpledged” delegates of states, instead of giving the task to local conventions.
None of these things happened. At a midafternoon rules session, the RNC modified the hated “unpledged” rule so that a presidential candidate had to “disavow” the delegates he didn’t like. When that meeting ended, Marla Criss, an alternate Paul delegate I’d met in Nevada, muttered that “tyranny won again.” The Maine delegates were not seated—which led to more controlled chaos, when the angry ousted delegates and their friends marched from the cheap seats to the convention’s halls, holding a furious impromptu press conference. Some of them wore lobster-decorated safety pins on their noses. That looked as good as it sounds.
And then there was the nomination itself, which had all the awkward factors of a real nomination contest, but nothing to tide over the losers. Only Romney’s name was put into nomination, so only his delegate count was announced from the stage (2,061 to Paul’s 202). Before the vote, I’d seen Romney’s lawyer Ben Ginsburg snarl at Rand Paul’s chief of staff. After I talked to a Texas delegate who’d been told to put his sign away, I walked past two CNN reporters grilling a Paul supporter about how the fight went down.
Will any of this affect the beloved Aesthetics. Of course not. We are old enough to remember 2008, when some of Hillary Clinton’s delegates fought for her all the way through Day 2. She gave a nice speech and, poof, end of narrative. The vast majority of Paul fans inside the halls are actually Republican activists now, and Rand Paul spent time today walking around, telling them to stay inside the party. The coverage of this—I mean, apart from my own five-year-long obsession with the Paul movement—reflects how much media are here and how photos of people shouting “NO!” and “SHAME!” look better than pictures of Kansas delegates in Wizard of Oz costumes.
So it didn’t look great. But we’re going to hear Ann Romney soon. That’ll fix it.
David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet at him @daveweigel.