TAMPA — Ron Paul supporters are rallying around would-be Maine delegates to the GOP convention who were unseated by the Committee on Credentials on Friday.
The Paul supporters are attempting to force a debate on reseating the Maine delegation tomorrow by challenging the credentials committee's decision. To proceed, they need to win over a majority of delegates from six states to back their cause and force an embarrassing and time-consuming roll call vote, something Romney's campaign is eager to avoid in a tightly-managed three-day convention.
"Maine’s a small state, this isn’t going to change the outcome," said would-be Maine delegate John Jones of the upcoming fight. "[If we win] it’s a good thing for the candidate because this removes this cloud that’s over Romney right now of shutting Maine out."
Maine's delegates have been in dispute since the state's month-long caucus process earlier this year. Paul supporters won a majority of the delegates in a result immediately challenged by the Romney campaign, which saw the Maine delegation as potentially the one giving Paul the required fifth vote to be nominated on the convention floor. The Committee on Contests ruled that the state's delegation be split, with 10 delegates for each Ron Paul and Mitt Romney — a decision upheld by the Committee on Credentials.
Stavros Mendros, a Maine delegate, complained that "People from other states decided who represents Maine."
Maine's newly-elected national committeewoman appeared hopeful that they could upend the credentials committee's ruling.
"At this point when we originally thought about this we thought it was our hail mary, but at this point we've received so much support from other delegations that we really think that we have a good shot at this point," she told BuzzFeed, adding that she expects Texas and Louisiana to back their effort.
Combined with the existing Paul-controlled delegations, that should give them the six required for a roll call vote.
One longtime RNC member called the efforts "futile," saying it will be impossible for the Paul delegates to be anything more than a "nuisance."
The credentials issue will not be the only contentious point of debate on Tuesday. Paul supporters are joining with grassroots conservatives and state party officials to
challenge rules changes pushed by the Romney campaign to weaken state conventions and grant presidential candidates the right to disavow delegates.
"We are a big party, we have people with different, opposing viewpoints. I don’t think this is a particularly divisive [issue,]" Romney senior adviser said of the likely floor fights. "I guarantee you that when we walk out of this convention Thursday we'll be 100% united in defeating Barack Obama."