Retiring Ron Paul May Distract From Romney Fanfare At Convention

For all the drama that surrounded the Republican primary season, the convention to formally nominate Mitt Romney as the party's candidate for president is likely to be suspense-free.

Well, maybe not completely.

Aside from Romney's coronation, the August 27-30 convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum will host another show: Ron Paul's farewell.

The 76-year-old representative from Texas will retire from Congress after November's elections, capping a long and colorful career. He is looking to take some of the limelight away from his former rival in the primaries.

Paul's followers - a small but intensely loyal band - have been collecting small packs of delegates from across the country since the congressman stopped campaigning in May, and they plan to be a forceful voice in Tampa.

Perhaps as many as 500 delegates out of the 2,286 total at the gathering will be Paul loyalists, keen to see the Republican Party accept his message of radically shrinking government onto its convention platform.

This has some Republicans worried that Paul and his often noisy supporters could upstage Romney and interrupt the tightly choreographed convention, just as the party needs to close ranks ahead of a tough fight against President Barack Obama and the Democrats at the November 6 elections.

"If I were Romney, I'd prepare for the worst," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said. Although he has almost no chance of winning the nomination, Paul is Romney's only Republican rival who has not withdrawn from the presidential race, and he refused last week to endorse Romney.

Giving Paul's fans some room could be a wise strategic move for Romney, O'Connell said.

"Romney has to take a very Machiavellian approach," he explained. "He wants to keep his friends - his supporters - close, and his potential enemies - Paul supporters - even closer."

Read more from Gabriel Debenedetti at Reuters

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published this page in In The News 2012-07-26 07:00:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy