An outnumbered but energetic faction of libertarian Ron Paul supporters are vowing to mount floor fight on the first day of the rescheduled Republican national convention today in Tampa.
A handbill left this morning under the doors at the St. Petersburg hotel where the Minnesota delegation is staying warns of “dangerous new party rules” that would give more power to party insiders in Washington and make it harder for insurgent candidacies to win delegates in caucuses and primaries.
Though relatively small in number, Paul’s supporters appear to have been doing the majority of the messaging on the eve of the convention, holding rallies and issuing communiqués, while party leaders party and tend to the details of the tightly-scripted convention that they hope will showcase Mitt Romney.
The Paul backers are encouraging each other to vote in favor of Rules Committee minority reports and against adoption of the majority rules reports. There also has been talk of Romney delegates preparing to shout down any outbursts by Paul people. This could set the stage for friction during the early going of the convention proceedings this afternoon, though likely little of it, by design, will be on television.
The Paul delegates, including 32 of Minnesota’s 40 voting delegates, also are unhappy about their placement in the back of the convention arena, as well as the decision of party leaders to exclude some Paul delegates from Maine.
All of this comes as Romney advisors stress the need for unity in Republican ranks not usually known for dissent.
Former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber, a Romney advisor, called it a “low level concern,” noting that all involved “want to get [President] Obama out of the way.”
In the end, Weber said, “I think they’re going to support Romney, but certainly the most extreme elements are going to do so grudgingly… But that’s necessary, because if they were a little more enthusiastic, we wouldn’t get the independents and moderates we need to win the election.”
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Still a sliver of possibility, however.