The Romney campaign is running scared. Establishment Republicans have resorted to tactics ranging from the breaking of convention rules, to shutting down of events, and even acts of violence.
Last weekend saw Republican conventions in Arizona and Oklahoma. These party gatherings were preceded by a string of Ron Paul victories in states such as Iowa, Nevada, Maine, Louisiana, and Massachusetts, as well as revelations that, in fact, no delegates are truly bound. Sensing this threat to establishment candidate Mitt Romney’s election, local GOP committeemen fell back on whatever tricks they could in order to keep Ron Paul supporters from influencing state conventions.
In Arizona, the state where Josh Romney was booed for pushing his father’s approved slate, the proceedings had begun relatively peacefully, but quickly deteriorated once Romney supporters began realizing how many Paulistas were in attendance. First, the convention’s leaders attempted to confuse voters by yo-yoing them back and forth between convention halls and the main floor. In that time, several cases of ballot stuffing were reported, as well as physical assaults on two Ron Paul delegates; but it was not enough.
The meeting’s establishment-backed chairman panicked, and shut down the convention, adjourning it without a vote. Abandoning his own meeting, and promising an election by mail, the chairman left the (majority) Paul audience to elect a new chairman. This group was eventually reconvened outside, in the parking lot of Grand Canyon College, where a symbolic convention continued. Apparently, Ron Paul walked away with 11 of the 18 available district caucus votes, but the official results of Arizona remain a mystery.
In Oklahoma, the attacks were much more overt. Walling off sections of the convention hall, exploiting errors in the credentials report to stall for time, and adjourning the meeting despite a “no” vote, Romney/Santorum/Gingrich supporters systematically broke convention rules and ignored votes from the floor in order to claim victory. Before the sun even went down, the establishment slate left the convention, claiming to have won 96% of the vote, despite Ron Paul supporters comprising about half of the attendees.
Another “rump convention” was held in the parking lot. This one, however, went on to select its own delegates and alternates, as well as end with the proper parliamentary procedure. This leaves Oklahoma’s GOP with a problem: dual conventions; both claiming to have selected the state’s true delegates.
It may be a while before the issues of these states are resolved. Perhaps twin delegations will be arriving in Tampa in order to fight a final, climactic battle on the convention floor.
But one thing can be taken away from this: Romney is not the nominee, and not by a long shot. The mainline GOP is panicking, and retreating deeper and deeper into the catacombs of party structure as their tactics become more and more desperate. It is only a matter of time until they are rooted out and replaced by the Ron Paul revolution which has swept so many other state parties.