Sunday, March 9, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tuesday’s brief showdown between Ron Paul supporters and GOP leaders on the floor of the Republican National Convention made clear that – despite attempts to suggest otherwise at the Tampa event – not everyone within the party is aligned behind Mitt Romney.
In all likelihood, the dispute over Maine’s delegates loyal to Paul will be a mere blip of disunity during the four-day pep rally for Romney and his VP pick, Paul Ryan. But it does underscore the challenge facing GOP leaders if they want to hold onto more libertarian-minded voters and Tea Party members.
The ideological differences between the “Ron Paul Army” and many mainstream Republicans were most evident during Sunday’s rally for the Texas congressman.
Like when the crowd booed news footage of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani and then, moments later, cheered images of Jon Stewart, the host of Comedy Central’s spoof news/commentary program.
Among the other topics that elicited boisterous boos from subscribers to the “Ron Paul Revolution”: military spending under President George W. Bush as well as the Iraq War, Bush’s No Child Left Behind education bill, the Patriot Act, the Transportation Security Administration and drug laws in general.
To Paul supporters, such stances should be welcomed by the Republican mainstream if the party is truly the “big tent” that it claims to be. But to some in the GOP, talk of auditing Pentagon spending, legalizing addictive drugs and restricting policing powers are more than a little hard to stomach.
And it wasn’t just Maine’s Paul devotees who were angry about Tuesday’s action on the floor.
“I think it did a whole lot of damage,” said Tyler Lindholm, an alternate delegate from Wyoming. “They did exactly what they shouldn’t have done. They should have reached out to Ron Paul in some way.”
Romney supporters, meanwhile, counter that the primaries are over and it is time for Republicans to rally behind the now-official nominee so they can beat President Obama.
Paul’s 70-minute-long, policy-laden speech to his supporters on Sunday may have been his swan song. The Texas libertarian is retiring in January after more than 30 years in Congress.
“This movement is Ron Paul’s legacy,” U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., told the rally attendees. “Now, it is our responsibility to grow it into the majority that it can be.”
But there’s already speculation that Paul’s equally libertarian-minded son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, could be back in four years with his own White House bid. And the chants of “Paul ‘16” chants whenever Rand Paul was mentioned as well as enthusiastic cheers for him on Tuesday suggest he already has a small but well-organized base.Tweet
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John Richardson joined the Press Herald in 1990 after working as a reporter in New Jersey. He has covered a variety of beats, including marine issues, the environment and health care. He is now covering politics and focusing on Maine's U.S. Senate race.
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On Twitter: @jrichmaine
Colin Woodard has covered politics and elections for more than two decades, from Bosnia and Bucharest to Washington, D.C., Augusta, and Portland City Hall. He has written for a wide range of national and international publications and is the author of four books, including "American Nations," a history of North America's regional cultures. He joined the Portland Press Herald at the end of April and covers political finance and lobbying, among other things.
Colin can be reached at 791-6317 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Cover has covered Maine politics for 10 years and worked in Kansas, Ohio and Rhode Island as a reporter. This year, she is focusing on covering the same-sex marriage debate for MaineToday Media.
Susan can be reached at 621-5643 or email@example.com
Michael Shepherd joined MaineToday Media in May 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he edited The Maine Campus, the student newspaper there. Until November he'll be writing the Truth Test, a recurring feature analyzing political statements and advertising.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org