What, exactly, is Ron Paul up to?
The Texas congressman has, by all reasonable reckoning, lost his bid to be the Republican presidential nominee. Lost it big. In the GOP’s 35 primary and caucus votes, Paul has won as many as President Obama. Zero.
But now, Paul is using an unorthodox tactic to add more delegates to the national convention this summer. In Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts and elsewhere, his supporters have flooded the party’s snoozy state conventions — and then elected themselves to delegate slots.
That’s prompted a question now transfixing the GOP: What does Paul want?
Paul still has little shot at the nomination. But, with these numbers, the perennial outsider could gain enough leverage to demand a speaking slot, or changes to the party platform at the convention, if GOP bosses fear that Paul’s unhappy fans could disrupt their big moment.
“What are we supposed to do? Tell these people, ‘Look, the poor [Mitt] Romney campaign isn’t organized. They don’t know how to do this. We ask you that you please vote for Romney’?” said Doug Wead, a historian and a senior adviser to Paul’s campaign.
Wead’s answer was no. Instead, Wead said he hoped that Paul’s additional delegates would win him a formal delegate vote on his nomination and a speaking slot in the convention’s spotlight. That could help raise Paul’s profile, and the profile of the son — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. — he is grooming for bigger things.
“It’s already too late” to stop Paul’s strategy from working, Wead said. “We’re going to have a ton of people on the floor of the Republican national convention.”
In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Paul said of his continued campaign: “It certainly isn’t for the reason of disrupting the convention. I’m in it for very precise reasons: to maximize our efforts to get as many delegates as we can. I’m still a candidate, and to promote something that is very, very important, that is a change in the direction for the Republican Party.”
By the numbers, the GOP race looks as finished as the Civil War.