Kenneth T. Walsh
May 7, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul’s hard-nosed troops aren’t giving up. Far from it. As demonstrated anew last weekend in Nevada and Maine, they are shaking up the GOP establishment and causing discomfort to strategists for front-runner Mitt Romney by capturing delegate blocs at the state level as they prepare for the Republican National Convention in Tampa this summer.

Paul organizers won’t tell the media exactly what they will do in Tampa or which states they will target next. And they have many challenges. For example, party rules often require national delegates to support the winner of state-level contests on the first ballot. So even though newly selected delegates in Nevada, Maine and elsewhere might personally back Paul, they could be bound to vote for Romney on the initial roll-call vote. But there is an alternative scenario. Paul strategists tell me that a delegate is permitted to abstain on the first ballot, which could conceivably deny Romney the nomination if enough of them go that route, combined with those still committed to candidates who have dropped out.

There is a strong desire among Paul supporters at the grass roots to push as hard as they can to put his name formally into nomination. They want him to address the convention in prime time and make his libertarian case directly to the nation. They also want to exert an influence on the party platform.

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