News Section: Election 2012
Ron Paul Supporters Fight RNC Shenanigans
TAMPA – A delegate who is a rules expert detained on a bus during a critical RNC rules vote that his delegation was poised to oppose; the refusal by the chair to recognize procedurally correct calls for the floor and an almost total media blackout of the way Congressman Ron Paul's delegates were treated by the RNC. These were among the beefs of the Libertarian icon's several hundred supporters who'd made the trip to Tampa from all over the U.S. hoping to have their voices heard by their party.
With properly-elected Ron Paul delegates having been stripped already, supporters made a procedurally-correct motion to amend the Credentials Committee Report on Tuesday, but it was ignored by RNC Chair Reince Priebus, causing several members of the Maine delegation to storm off the floor in protest.
Next came a critical vote on new RNC rules that looked like a mere formality to most casual observers watching on C-SPAN and even the vast majority of delegates. But what Paul supporters were painfully aware of was the impact such rules would have on a future grass roots candidate, eliminating the chance that they could ever get even as far as the Texas Congressman had. However, the vote seemed destined to pass and without dissent, discussion, or even an informed delegation for that matter.
Supporters finish a mural for P.A.U.L. Fest
photo by Brian David Braun
Morton Blackwell, a longtime conservative activist and RNC Rules Committee expert, found himself indefinitely detained – along with the rest of the Virginia delegation. The RNC’s bus driver responsible for transporting delegates somehow “got lost” for well over an hour, by which time the Rules Committee meeting had been adjourned.
"These rules are designed to turn the Republican Party into a top-down organization and strip power away from state parties and grassroots activists of every stripe," said Paul's campaign manager John Tate in a release to supporters the next day.
Efforts to vote down the new rules were ignored. Despite what appeared to be a clear split in the voice vote, the gavel was hammered and the next report was quickly introduced amid the protest of Paul delegates chanting, "let them speak."
On Wednesday and Thursday, Paul's supporters and delegates shifted their rallying cry in an attempt to alert other delegates and voters that had these rules been in place back in 1976, conservative icon Ronald Reagan would have never risen to prominence in the GOP at the 1976 Republican convention, which set the stage for his successful presidential bid in 1980.
In 1976, Reagan challenged incumbent President Gerald Ford, who had ascended to the presidency on Richard Nixon's resignation and had never won an election as President or Vice President, as he'd only taken the VP role after the resignation of Spiro Agnew, the only Vice President in history to resign while facing criminal charges.
Reagan failed to win enough of the early states to damage Ford, but his campaign was revived in Texas, where he swept all 96 delegates chosen in the primary, then four more at the state convention. Ford appeared close to victory as the convention approached, but Reagan pulled in more support by choosing moderate Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his running mate if nominated. He gave a rousing speech at the convention and lost to Ford by a count of only 1,187 delegates to 1,070.
In his concession speech, Reagan emphasized the dangers of nuclear war and the threat posed by the Soviet Union. Most presidential historians view the events surrounding that 1976 convention as the launching pad for Reagan's ascent to national prominence and big victory in 1980, none of which may have happened had the party had such a tight grip on the way nominees were decided.
A young Ron Paul supporter exemplifying silenced liberty
Photo by Brian David Braun
The rule changes adopted this week will bind delegates in all 50 states to vote for the winner of their state’s Republican primary at future conventions. Currently, each state party sets its own rules for sending delegates to the party’s national convention. Some state parties’ delegates are “bound” to vote for the winner of the state primary or caucus. Other state parties send “unbound” delegates, with state party rules that allow them to “vote their conscience” on the convention floor.
Many Paul supporters see little difference between
the establishment candidates.
photo by Brian David Braun
The new rules will also allow the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee to choose which delegates are sent from each state party to the national convention, instead of allowing each state party to determine its own rules and process for selecting delegates.
Let's say Mitt Romney wins the general election in November, but faces internal opposition in 2016, as Ford did in 1976 or President Carter did in 1980. The new rules would allow his campaign to unilaterally silence inside opposition by stacking state delegations to the convention with his supporters.
Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele told the Daily Show that he saw no upside for the RNC's treatment of Paul's supporters.
"What the Republican National Committee did to Ron Paul was the height of rudeness and stupidity for this reason," he said in a Daily show interview. "Why would you alienate an individual who has the ability to attract a new generation of voters, who are already skeptical of your institution but are willing to at least listen through the vehicle of this individual and the words that he is saying? Why would you alienate them, get on the floor and not let them speak? Not have his name go up on the board and see the number of electoral votes that he receives? This is crazy! ... They are afraid of that which they cannot control."
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