Paul's supporters could become a distraction at the National Political Conventions, forcing public debates! Oh, I hope so!Submitted by Katherine on Sun, 08/19/2012 - 16:27
The GOP platform committee meets Monday and Tuesday in Tampa, ahead of the start of the convention Aug. 27.
Romney will have enough delegates to win any battle over the platform. But if Paul's supporters aren't placated, they could become an unwanted distraction, forcing public debates over foreign policy and the fight against terrorism at a time when Romney would rather focus on the struggling economy and his efforts to defeat Obama.
Many of Paul's libertarian views dovetail nicely with mainstream Republican ideas on limited government and low taxes. But Paul breaks with much of his party when he rails against American intervention abroad, calling the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan illegal because Congress never passed a declaration of war. Paul also calls for abolishing the Federal Reserve and repealing the Patriot Act, legislation enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks to give law enforcement more tools to fight terrorism.
Don't look for any of those positions in this year's Republican platform. But party leaders could make some concessions, perhaps agreeing to a plank that calls for an audit of the Fed or a broad statement that calls for respecting civil liberties in the fight against terrorism.
Would that be enough to appease most Paul supporters?
"The delegates are individuals. They're going to go in there, the ones we have on the platform committee, they're going to go in there and fight for what they actually want," said Marianne Stebbins, a delegate who coordinated Paul's campaign in Minnesota. "I think you're going to see – I'm hoping – quite a different platform (from 2008), where we're talking about civil liberties a little more, whether it's Internet privacy or warrantless wiretaps,"
But, she added, "You don't turn the barge around in a day."
Paul has a dedicated following, even though he didn't win a single Republican presidential primary. Nevertheless, his supporters took control of several state GOP conventions where they elected delegates to the national convention. Paul has 160 delegates, compared with 1,552 for Romney, according to The Associated Press count.
The Romney campaign treads lightly around Paul, careful not to offend his supporters but insistent that the national convention is Romney's affair.
"We look forward to preparing a platform that represents Republican conservative principles on the wide variety of issues facing the nation," Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email. "We are confident that there will be broad participation and that we will have a successful platform committee meeting and overall convention in Tampa."