Rep. Ron Paul is sort of, in a sense, ramping down his presidential campaign; he’s not going to campaign anymore in the states that still haven’t held primaries or first-stage caucuses, although he’ll continue to fight for delegates where the rules allow for contested caucuses and conventions.
Dave Weigel suspects that the timing may be related to coming primaries in Paul’s Texas and his son Rep. Rand Paul’s Kentucky; contesting and getting clobbered in those states might be an embarrassment for the libertarian crusader. Could be, but I think it’s more straightforward. With the media no longer paying any attention to the primaries, there’s really not much of a point in maximizing vote share. Suppose that hard campaigning could lift the Paul vote from 5 percent to 20 percent; how exactly does that do him any good if no one is paying attention?
Now, granted, doing well could net him delegates, and I suppose the more delegates the better — although my strong sense of it is that once Paul falls below the threshold of being able to win platform battles, it doesn’t really matter how many delegates he has; his real leverage is that he can threaten to endorse Gary Johnson on the libertarian line (or even run himself, although it’s getting late for that and will certainly be too late by the time of the convention). At any rate, given his limited resources, it may be the case that Paul believes the best way to maximize his delegate count is to do exactly what he’s now doing. As Benjy Sarlin says, it’s not exactly clear what Paul intends to do in Tampa, anyway, or how his “delegate strategy” fits into all of it now that it’s clear that there will be no contested convention.
My best guess? Ron Paul pushes for votes on a few platform issues, and settles for platform committee losses on most of them but gets one or two minor victories, with something about the Fed probably the most likely. After that, his delegates then behave themselves in Florida but do wind up trying to generate some favorable publicity for him (and Rand Paul) without doing anything to harm Mitt Romney. And since reporters will be looking for stories, they’ll succeed, at least to some extent.
Either way, I suspect today’s news isn’t all it seems. The Paul campaign was never really about winning the nomination, after all – and whatever it is that the campaign is after, it’s not ending today.