That's exactly what's going on now through the delegation process. Look at all the bullshit the RP delegation is having to put up with and are still coming out ahead at various states.
Here is the signal that Rand Paul has sent to the establishment. The Liberty Movement is willing to cooperate politically without compromising on principal. In other words, nobody is bound to vote for Romney even with Rand's support. Everybody knows the Republicans have little chance at winning with Romney, and even less chance without the support of the RP people.
Rand's support puts the ball in the court of the Establishment. Meaning, when the opportunity arises in the future, they will have to offer cooperation with the Liberty Movement. Otherwise, the Liberty Movement will have no future incentive to cooperate with the Establishment.
Here's why Rand's support of Romney is the kiss of death. The Liberty Movement no longer needs the neo-con Establishment Republicans. The Liberty Movement is taking over the delegation process; they are taking over the Republican agenda. If the Establishment Republicans fail to reciprocate cooperation and support offered by Rand, they will simply be driven out. The Bill Kristols and Rick Santorums of the the Republican Party will ultimately get driven out.
The best possible scenario is winning the presidency and taking over the party (this is what the RP zealots want). The worst possible scenario is losing both presidency and the party. But, a very acceptable and positive outcome is taking over the party (this is what the RP realists will settle for). In the grand scheme of things, this is a much bigger coup. In terms of game theory, the "payoff" for taking over the party is much higher than simply winning the presidency. Sacrificing the party just for a shot at the presidency was not going to be good choice, and both Ron and Rand Paul know this.