What Ron Paul wants

at 09:53 AM ET, 06/21/2012

Texas Rep. Ron Paul raised $1.8 million in May — even though he announced half way through the month he would no longer compete in primaries. He ended the month with nearly $3.3 million in the bank.

Paul’s continued fundraising ability is s yet more proof that he was never running a traditional campaign but rather overseeing a cause that operated largely independent of election results. And it also suggests that Paul and his supporters could throw a wrench into former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s plans at the Republican National Convention — whether or not the libertarian-leaning lawmaker is offered a formal speaking slot.

In recent interviews with CNN and MSNBC, Paul intimated that he is not expecting a speaking slot at the convention, but that he does want a debate.

“I’m not sure I will have a public presence, but we will have a presence, the organization,” he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday morning. “All I want to do, if I don’t get a speech on the floor in the convention, all I want to do is have a meeting and say, ‘Look, we have numbers, we have people, we have enthusiasm, we believe in something. Why don’t you pay a little attention?’” Paul said. “And actually I think they are.”

On CNN, he added: “I would like to have these conventions mean something and continue to debate and decide what we as a party actually believe in.”

Taxpayers pitch in for the convention and should get more than a heavily scripted, four-day pep rally, Paul argued: “Everybody pays for this, 18 million dollars to pay for this, and you’re not allowed to have a discussion,” he said.

Of course, what Paul wants out of the convention is directly at odds with the orderly and predictable event that Romney and his team covet.

History suggests that all of Paul’s talk could just as easily fizzle as create a real problem for Romney in Tampa at the end of August.

Paul and his supporters held a counter-convention in Minneapolis four years ago, and it did little to disturb the nomination of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). But this time around, thanks to some canny state convention machinations, many of the delegates inside the convention hall will be Paul supporters.

“We are running a delegate program for Tampa — its a delegate assistance program,” said Doug Wead, a senior adviser to Paul. “We will have a whip team and more.”

Given that, Romney might need to placate the Paul contingent in some way. (The future ambitions of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron’s son, should help.)

“Governor Romney has a lot of respect for Dr. Paul and the energy his supporters bring to the process,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “We look forward to broad participation at the Tampa convention and know the Paul enthusiasts will have their voices heard.”

People in Paul’s orbit say the candidate’s dialogue with the Republican National Committee have been constructive and fair.

After the election, Paul, who is stepping down from the House, will devote himself to his so-called “Campaign for Liberty” full-time. Whether he uses that perch to antagonize the GOP or promote it might depend on what happens in August.

 
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