TAMPA, Fla. — Ron Paul supporters at the Republican National Convention erupted in fury Tuesday over decisions that weakened their delegate count and other rule changes that will make it harder for non-establishment candidates in future elections.
Several members of the Maine delegation walked out of the Tampa Bay Times Forum after the convention affirmed the GOP’s decision to replace 10 of Maine’s 24 delegates.
“It’s a disgusting, disgusting display of a hostile takeover from the top down,” said Ashley Ryan, 21, a Maine delegate. “It’s an embarrassment.”
Paul did not win a single state, but his ardent followers worked arcane local and state party rules to take over several state delegations, including garnering 20 of Maine’s 24 spots. The RNC decided to replace 10 of them, effectively stopping the state from being able to submit Paul’s name for nomination. (In response, the state’s Republican governor, a Romney supporter, decided to boycott the convention.)
Although Mitt Romney easily has the delegate support to take the nomination in one ballot, avoiding a floor fight allows the GOP to present a unified front.
But the decision to not seat the original Maine delegation, and the approval of rules that will make it harder for grass-roots-fueled candidates in the future, caused an uproar in the handful of state delegations dominated by Paul supporters, as well as some others that are concerned about the GOP centralizing power in the hands of a few and taking it away from the states.
Wiselot Rouzard, a delegate from Nevada and a Paul supporter, compared the situation to Adolf Hitler taking power in Germany.
“There’s nothing American about what just happened,” he said. “This is the death of the Republican Party.”
As the roll call of states commenced, several states listed votes for both Romney and Paul. When repeating back the count, those at the podium cited only the Romney votes.