Writing in Salon, Steve Kronacki reports that Repuiblic honchos are getting worried:
…the political world stopped paying attention to Paul about two months ago, and the threat of him bolting the GOP and running as an independent – a scenario long feared by Republicans – passed long ago.
And yet, the RNC’s chief counsel felt the need this week to issue a warning to the Nevada state GOP about the Paul campaign. At issue is this weekend’s Nevada Republican convention, where delegates to the national convention will be chosen. The state’s caucuses in February were a truly messy (that’s the polite word) affair, but Romney was the clear and overwhelming winner.
On Saturday, though, Paul supporters are expected to flood the state convention and could account for the lion’s share of attendees. This is what prompted the RNC’s counsel to warn the state party that its delegation might be denied seating in Tampa if it’s dominated by Paul-ites.
The RNC isn’t just nervous about Nevada. In the past few weeks, as Romney cemented his hold on the nomination and the media turned its attention to the general election, Paul supporters have wreaked havoc at numerous district caucuses and state conventions, producing some startling results.
Paul’s ability to get supporters into district caucuses and state conventions may well give him enough delegates to keep Romney from getting the 1,144 delegates he needs to get the nomination. That’ll give Paul some leverage. For what?
The threat of an outsize Paul contingent isn’t about platform planks, though. It’s about disruption. National conventions long ago stopped being about official party business and became slickly produced infomercials. But Paul’s supporters aren’t, generally speaking, party loyalists. For them, Tampa won’t be a vacation – it will be a mission. With the right numbers, they could slow the convention down with procedural distractions, messing with the party’s careful scripting of the event. More alarming for Romney is the prospect of Paul delegates loudly and derisively jeering speakers, and maybe even Romney himself, creating an image of chaos and disunity. To understand this threat, just look at what happened at the recent Alaska state GOP convention, where Paul supporters relentlessly heckled two U.S. senators.