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Ron Paul delegates aim to stay on course for national convention (Maine)

"WASHINGTON — It's been more than two months since Mitt Romney captured enough delegates to claim — unofficially, at least — the Republican presidential nomination.

Matt McDonald is one of the 24 delegates who plans to represent Maine at the Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month. Unlike the vast majority of delegates nationwide, however, McDonald doesn't plan to cast his vote for Romney.

He and 19 other delegates from Maine are fighting to cast their votes for Ron Paul, whose 158 delegates equate to roughly one-10th of Romney's total.

"We are realistic," McDonald said Wednesday, "but for the integrity of the process, we were elected as delegates (for Paul) and we are going to go and support Ron Paul."

Paul delegates from Maine and several other states are currently battling to preserve their "seats" at the Tampa convention, which begins Aug. 27, in the face of challenges by Romney supporters and others. In Maine, two Republicans contend the 20 pro-Paul delegates were elected improperly during a disorderly state convention in May and therefore should be tossed out.

In some ways, the unflinching support of Paul delegates from Maine and several other states is more than symbolic. If Paul can accrue the plurality of delegates in at least five states, his name will be placed in nomination formally alongside Romney's, earning him a prime-time slot to address the convention — and, therefore, the nation.

However, Paul supporters also hope to introduce some of the libertarian stances espoused by Paul during the campaign into the Republican party platform, which serves as the national party's guiding principles.

Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said delegate challenges such as those playing out with the pro-Paul delegates were more common in the past."

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