Read the rest of Slate’s coverage from the GOP convention.
TAMPA, Fla.—There will be more details in my forthcoming breakfast table piece, and even more forthcoming words about the rules fights. Short version: Ron Paul supporters conquered the Maine conventions earlier this year. They were going to come to Tampa with all of the state's 24 delegates. Last week, during the (actually pretty well-covered) platform and rules debates, the RNC decided to give half the delegates to supporters of Mitt Romney. Paul's diehards, and plenty of alternates, arrived in Tampa and told everyone they could find that they'd been screwed. And they really told us. While I was ironing out a credentials issue, two Mainers came up to the credentials desk (staffed by Senate periodicals workers, not reporters) and offered themselves up for interviews.
Early in the afternoon, before networks turned in, the RNC dealt with this. They rushed through a vote on "the recommendations of the credentials committee" -- the ones that took away Paul delegates in the state where he did the best. It passed on a voice vote. Paul delegates worked the land-line phones in their sections, asking for a point of order. They didn't get it. The biggest Paul delegations -- Minnesota, Nevada, Iowa -- chanted "point of order" to now avail. That was when the ousted Mainers, sitting lonely in the stands off the convention floor, walked out.
"They just took the votes away from veterans!" shouted the loudest delegate, Matt McDonald. This drew a crowd. Romney supporters found the protest and started trying to shout over it.
And so began a 10-minute standoff, covered to the most minute detail by mostly foreign press.
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