After the meetings concluded, the Paul supporters and their allies feverishly gathered signatures to block other rules changes. One, for example, would permit the rules committee to change party rules between conventions.
Finally, the conflict came to a head with a floor vote on the report from the credentials committee. The report prevented half the delegates from Maine — many of them Paul supporters — from being seated because of problems with the way they were selected. Maine is one of a few states where Paul supporters effectively took over the delegate-selection process, even though he didn’t carry the popular vote in the state. The new RNC rules would prevent that in the future.
“We’re fighting for our brothers and sisters of Maine,” said Harrison Whitaker, a delegate from Texas who said he would vote for Romney but supports Paul.
But the credentials report passed by voice vote. The Paulites erupted:
“Seat Maine now!”
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus gaveled the crowd back into order.
A number of Paul supporters marched out in protest.
Next came the rules vote. House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) conducted a voice vote.
All in favor? “AYE!”
All opposed? “NAY!”
It was a very close vote. But Boehner made the call.
“In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it,” Boehner said.
“NO!!!” shouted the Paul supporters.
Ashley Ryan, 21, a Paul delegate from Maine, pointed at the Romney supporters. “People from Maine didn’t choose these people. These people are an embarrassment to our state,” she said. “Our party has betrayed us.”
Soon the commotion died down. The life seemed to go out of the Paulite insurrection. Back to business. The roll call began, and it was, as scheduled, a Romney Fest — made for television.
Jason Horowitz contributed to this report.