The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

In doing some research on a column for TNR, I ran across a phenomenon that has been underreported in the MSM: the Ron Paul Revolution is rolling on in little-noticed delegate selection contests around the country.

In some cases, Paulites are winning delegate slots whose votes are already pledged to other candidates thanks to earlier primaries. That’s most embarrassingly the case in Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney’s allies got trounced in many district delegate selection conventions, posing the strong possibility that the Revolution will gain a majority of the state’s 41 delegates.

But in other states with complex multi-stage procedures for selecting delegates, Paul’s minions, with their signature ability to pack small rooms, are overturning much-publicized “beauty contest” results that didn’t actually bind delegates. Remember Iowa, where the big controversy was an initial count on Caucus Night showing Romney having won by an eyelash over Rick Santorum? Turns out Santorum “won,” and the quick announcement of a Romney victory led to the resignation of the state party chair. But he was replaced by a Paulite (part of a faction that also controls the state party central committee), and it’s now reasonably clear Paul will win a plurality and perhaps a majority of Iowa’s votes in Tampa. Similar events unfolded in Colorado and may soon be replicated in Minnesota and Louisiana.

As always, it’s not clear what Paul and his acolytes are up to, other than promoting their quirky ideology and settling scores with state and local party folk who have always treated them like bedbugs. There’s some talk of a platform fight (though there hasn’t been one of those in a GOP convention since the 1976 event when equally powerful Ford and Reagan delegate blocs meant nobody completely controlled the convention) or an effort to embarrass Mitt by placing Paul’s name in nomination (he’s within easy striking distance of the five-state-plurality requirement for taking that step if it wants it). Perhaps the Doctor wants something for himself or for his son, who is according to some reports preparing a 2016 presidential run of his own.

The one thing we do know for sure is that the Romney campaign and the RNC will do everything possible to keep the Revolution and its troops as far away from the TV cameras in Tampa as is humanly possible. That won’t be easy without Paul’s close cooperation, particularly since it’s traditional that the nominee’s home state delegation and the ever-preferred Iowa delegation will be prominently seated in the convention hall and will attract lots of interviews from bored reporters. So if Paul wants to extract a promise that he’ll be given the keys to Ben Bernanke’s executive washroom at the Fed, or a gold coin bearing his own likeness, he’ll probably get it.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.