Ron Paul spoke to his supporters last week and urged them not to give up demanding that the ideals of the Revolution he has helped to spark become main staples of the Republican platform when the party meets in Tampa, Fla., in August. But for many of Paul’s supporters, giving up has never been an option anyway.
In a video address last Friday, Paul sought to get his delegates ready for what will be the climax of his entire campaign when the Republican National Convention begins on Aug. 27. In the days following the convention’s kickoff, Paul’s delegates will have the chance to change the GOP in ways that suit their mission regardless of the Party’s pick.
Paul is urging delegates and supporters who will be in Tampa to gather on Aug. 26, the day before the convention starts, for a rally to organize in anticipation of the events taking place the following week.
“[The rally] will celebrate what we have done and to urge on and encourage all the delegates who will do their job at the convention, fight for our values, influence the platform and do whatever we can to promote the cause of liberty,” Paul said.
The candidate also expressed the importance of his supporters showing up in large numbers for this event to let the Republican establishment know that his contingent refuses to be ignored.
Paul’s supporters, who have seen several ups and downs during the campaign season, continue to work feverishly throughout the Nation to further their cause. Often, their enthusiasm in getting involved in GOP politics gives the impression that the establishment is getting annoyed.
Though the national media spent little time covering the events that unfolded at the GOP state convention in Louisiana, Paul supporters who attended the event say old guard Republicans in that State blatantly tried to silence them. According to a report from The Times-Picayune, GOP officials, worried that Paul’s supporters would hijack the event, changed party rules in the days preceding the convention and arranged for nine off-duty police officers and several plainclothes state troopers to attend the event for security.
According to the news report, the additional security was provided because the State’s GOP had received a tip that Paul’s supporters had “retained a militia.” But Paul supporter Nick Soniat tells the story a little differently.
“What they called a militia was actually two guys that we asked to attend to stand around our chairperson, because we knew that they [the GOP] were arranging private security, and we feared that they would simply remove our people,” Soniat told Personal Liberty. “But they were asked not to enter the room. So we spoke to the state troopers to ensure that no one would attempt to remove speakers as long as they acted within the rules. We were assured that they would not.”
The convention reportedly then denigrated into chaos. The result and the cause are explained in two different ways: one from the perspective of Paul supporters and one from GOP loyalists.
Ellen Davis, a Paul delegate, writes in a letter to the Louisiana GOP:
“You claim that the violence committed against representatives of the majority of convention delegates was justified because you were simply enforcing the convention rules. Those supplemental convention rules were adopted in a PRIVATE meeting held two days before the state convention in Shreveport. They entirely changed the scope of the agreed upon rules submitted to the Republican National Committee in October of last year.”
Paul’s supporters in the State claim — with convincing video evidence to back them — that the GOP’s hired officers assaulted the first Paul delegate to the convention, putting him to the ground and breaking his fingers in the process. Davis says the man, Henry Herford, was then arrested without ever being told he was violating the law. Herford was charged with the misdemeanor crime of entering and remaining after being forbidden.
Following Herford’s arrest, the delegates proceeded to elect a new chair and continued with the business of the convention. They reportedly elected a slate of 27 Paul supporters to fill 12 of the 18 district delegate slots and 15 of 20 at-large delegate slots, before certifying the results with the RNC. At the same time, State party leaders held their own convention in one corner of the room with about 30 delegates in attendance that had either been certified by the Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum campaigns. Local media are reporting that the minority convention also elected a slate of delegates. Paul supporters and the Louisiana State GOP will likely not know whose delegates will represent the State until the national Republican Party’s contest committee determines the legitimate delegation.
The Republican Party’s “antics,” as they were described in Louisiana, have become a common gripe among Paul supporters. So much so that a large number of delegates represented by the law firm of Gilbert & Marlowe in Santa Ana, Calif., filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California asking the court to decide:
[W]hether Plaintiffs are free to vote their conscience on the first and all ballots at the Federal Election known as the Republican National Convention or whether Plaintiffs are bound to vote for a particular candidate as instructed by Defendants’ State Party Bylaws, or State Laws, or the preference of political operatives.
The chairmen of every State’s Republican Party, as well as the State parties, are named as defendants in the case.
The plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Richard Gilbert, explained his clients’ motivation to Courthouse News: “When nominating someone for a federal office, all delegates must be free to vote their conscience. They don’t want to be bound to any candidate, or even be forced to vote for the nominee. To have a real convention, the delegates must have free will so that when they meet, they can persuade each other and then decide who to vote for.”
Gilbert said that GOP chairmen and organizers have changed the rules immediately before a convention — like in Louisiana — “and sometimes in the middle of one” to block the existence of a quorum or to “rig an outcome.”
Before a judge could rule a hearing or an injunction in the case, however, it must be determined whether a State nominating convention qualifies as a “Federal” election for purposes of applying Federal election and voting laws and that all of the named plaintiffs are indeed delegates to the national convention.
Despite the controversy that continues around the Paul campaign as the RNC draws near, it continues to realize delegate victories throughout the Nation. His supporters have taken over State Republican conventions in Nevada and Maine, and had a strong showing this weekend in Iowa.
With 100,000 supporters and a strong number of delegates expected to arrive in Tampa in August, Paul is certain his backers have a major chance to reshape aspects of the Republican Party. His success in doing so could mean that even if shaping the Party platform at the RNC is one of his last political undertakings, GOP officials will be in the company of people who appreciate the political philosophy he popularized for years to come.