Ron Paul isn't going to win the Republican nomination for president. But watch what a stir he and his passionate supporters create in August at the National Convention in Tampa.
The U.S. representative from Texas didn't go all-in on his White House run to throw in the towel at the convention door. No way.
He has chips on the table. He has a hand to play.
At the end of the day, Paul likely will realize one of the goals of his campaign -- he will have moved the Republican Party closer to his lifelong Libertarian principles of balancing the federal budget, scaling back government involvement in domestic affairs and drastically reducing the nations military presence in foreign countries.
Of course, the GOP isn't going to consent to all that. But Paul now has an estimated 200 constitutionality-minded delegates, a significant wedge of the party. Watch the party wheelers-and-dealers throw him a bone.
A couple of weeks ago Paul won Iowa. And it wasn't even close. Supporters of the Texas libertarian came away from the GOP primary with 23 of the Hawkeye States 28 national convention delegates.
Under Iowa's Republican rules, those delegates are unbound -- which means they can vote for the congressman in Tampa if they please. Its a shining example of how Pauls strategy of getting his people organized at the grassroots level has paid off.
Paulite participation in primary and caucus processes has resulted in a libertarian takeover of several state and local GOP operations, for example the state parties in Alaska, Maine, and of course Iowa.
Paul has amassed an impressive number of delegates overall because of the GOP's uniquely binding delegate rules. That number is his ace in the hole. It's credibility for having his views, especially on control of the Federal Reserve and Internet freedom, heard by Romney and other top Republicans in Tampa for the convention.
Right now, anyway, Paul plain will not endorse the party's probable nominee, Mitt Romney. During a recent appearance on CNN, he said he wants a strong presence at the campaign for his legions of supporters who are expected to show up in strong numbers.
Philosophically, Romney and Paul are miles apart. They have different views on how the Republican Party can win the general election, restore the vibrancy of the U.S. economy and reduce the national unemployment rate.
The Ron Paul campaign signed a contract Thursday to secure the University of South Floridas 11,000-seat Sun Dome for Sunday, Aug. 26, the day prior to the beginning of the three-day Republican National Convention.
In an email to his supporters released Friday, Paul wrote, "The Republican National Convention is just around the corner, and the establishment is about to find out what you and I have known all along this election season the future is ours! So on Aug. 26, the day before the convention convenes, I hope youll join me at a special rally to celebrate how far our message and movement have come this year.
The Republican National Committee actually gave the nod to the preconvention rally in which Paul himself will be the main feature.
Wed really like a large turnout for this," Paul says in a video, again addressing his supporters. "Numbers are important ... We should not be disruptive but neither should we be pushed around."
Keep an eye on this rally -- an event some pundits have dubbed "Paulstock." It could be fascinating.
Look for the Paul forces to turn up a new bad guy, and it won't be Mitt Romney. Think Rick Santorum.
After months of hanging Romney from a meat hook, Santorum has done a 180 and endorsed the former governor of Massachusetts like a favorite uncle.
In the video to supporters mentioned above, Paul also claims that Santorum has vowed to rally conservatives to oppose some of his principal policies.
Obviously, Paul takes offense. He says this: It is true the Santorum people are principled. Theyre also authoritarians. They want to use the government to impose their will on us as individuals.
The demonizing of Santorum -- long gone from the race as he is -- may be a smart move to bring former Santorum conservatives to the Paul side. It could also help soften the bitter criticism of Paul's son, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., for jumping off his father's bandwagon and endorsing Romney.
Offering up Santorum as an opponent could give Ron Paul's supporters someone on whom to vent their ire -- so that Paul might still win a speaking slot at the convention and his son's future in the party will not be jeopardized.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.