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Does Ron Paul Plan to Turn the GOP Convention into a Food Fight?

The Ron Paul campaign's latest hijinks have Mitt Romney operatives in a tizzy.
 
 
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UPDATE, MAY 7, 2012:The Ron Paul mischief-making continues, with the Paul forces having won 22 of the 25 delegate slotsup for election at the Nevada Republican Convention last weekend. Add to that three "automatic" delegates in Romney's column and the Nevada delegate balance is Paul: 22, Romney: 6. In Maine, a similar scenario played out over the same weekend; Paul forces there captured 21 of the available 24delegate slots.

Mitt Romney may have the Republican presidential nomination all but locked up, but if Ron Paul has his way, Romney will either cut a deal with the iconoclastic Texas congressman, or face an ugly scene in Florida at the party's national convention. It's still a long march to Tampa, and in the final leg, Paul might just plant his foot in Romney's "Happy Nomination!" cake. Today in Nevada, the statewide Republican convention may offer a glimpse of what Paul has in store for Tampa.

With Newt Gingrich now gone from the GOP presidential race, Romney faces only one challenger, Ron Paul, who has vowed to stay in the race until the bitter end. And lest you think his quest quixotic, word on the street is that the latest antics of the Ron Paul campaign have Romney operatives "in a panic," according to a Paul adviser quoted in the right-wing Daily Caller. For while the political media focused on the Romney-Santorum smackdown and the penguin that attacked Newt, Ron Paul's zealots have been quietly maneuvering to stack the delegate slates in certain states in favor of the John Birch Society's favorite Republican.

Delegate Stratgery: Paul Forces Gain Control of State Parties

After Paul's initial focus on the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary failed to pan out, the Paul camp began focusing on the mechanics of delegate apportionment. In order to officially win the nomination, Romney needs the votes of 1,144 delegates to the Republican National Convention. But in many states, winning a primary or caucus doesn't automatically guarantee that the delegates chosen by the winner will be seated at the convention. In Romney's home state of Massachusetts, for instance, the former governor won 72 percent of the primary vote. But delegates had yet to be chosen, and in the state party's delegate-chosing caucus last week, fewer than half of the delegates designated by Team Romney won the right to be seated at the convention. The rest of the seats went to Ron Paul supporters. 

Similar scenes have played out in Minnesota and Louisiana and may well do so again today in Nevada. In fact, the Republican establishment is so concerned with the Paul camp's delegate strategy that Republican National Committee general counsel John R. Phillippe, Jr. sent a letter to the Nevada state party chairman not to mess with the delegate process, or risk "jeopardizing the seating of Nevada’s entire delegation to the National Convention." (Phillippe did, however, acknowledge that his letter was "not binding," according to Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun.) 

In Louisiana, the Paul forces swept the delegate election process last weekend, winning upwards of 70 percent of the slots, according to Policymic. (That process actually chose delegates to the June 2 statewide Republican convention, where more hijinks are likely.)

At a Minnesota delegate-selecting contest based on congressional districts two weeks ago, Ron Paul won 20 of the 24 delegates available in that contest. 

In Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses last January, Ron Paul finished in a respectable third place, but his supporters now control the state Republican Party, and Iowa's entire delegation comprises "unbound" delegates, who can vote for any candidate for the nomination.