Political Animal

Blog

September 15, 2012 10:37 AM Romney Already Paying Price For Hard Line On Paulites

By Ben Jacobs

At the RNC in Tampa, the Romney campaign forced through rules changes to make it more difficult for anti-establishment candidates like Ron Paul in the future and kept Paul from being formally nominated from the floor. This avoided a lot of stir at that time. After all, it meant that an extended floor vote and nominating process would not push Chris Christie’s keynote speech on Tuesday from prime time and that the convention would run roughly on schedule for its television audience of undecided voters. While this may hurt Romney with hardcore libertarian voters on Election Day, it is now presenting other complications for him.

The AP reported Wednesday that at least three Republican electors may vote for Paul in the Electoral College if Romney wins their state in November. Electors are normally party activists selected through a similar process as delegates to the national convention and as a result, a number of Republican state parties picked electors with libertarian sympathies this year. These die-hard activists were not pleased with what happened at the RNC and the result is to make the GOP appear unorganized. As the article reports:

The electors — all supporters of former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul — told The Associated Press they are exploring options should Mitt Romney win their states. They expressed frustration at how Republican leaders have worked to suppress Paul’s conservative movement and his legion of loyal supporters.
“They’ve never given Ron Paul a fair shot, and I’m disgusted with that. I’d like to show them how disgusted I am,” said Melinda Wadsley, an Iowa mother of three who was selected as a Republican elector earlier this year. She said Paul is the better choice and noted that the Electoral College was founded with the idea that electors wouldn’t just mimic the popular vote.

Although Wadsley has already resigned her position under pressure, the other two potential faithless electors, one from the safe GOP state of Texas and the other from the swing state of Nevada still hold their positions. It’s difficult to conceive of a scenario where the Presidential election is decided by two electoral votes but it has happened in the recent past (the 2000 election).

If the race between Romney and Obama ends up being tight in the last few weeks, there will likely be even more speculation about potential faithless electors. This would not be to Romney’s benefit. News stories about Ron Paul and the electoral college in the election’s home stretch both push Romney off-message and can only dampen GOP turnout. It shows the price of the GOP over-managing its convention. After all, even one elector out of 535 likely to make far more of an impact on an election than the most eloquent speech by Chris Christie.

Ben Jacobs is a journalist living in New York. He is a former reporter for Newsweek/The Daily Beast and contributor to the Boston Globe editorial page. Follow him on Twitter @bencjacobs.

Comments

  • DRF on September 15, 2012 11:36 AM:

    They didn't give Paul a fair shot? I can't speak to the states which selected delegates via conventions or caucuses, but didn't this guy lose every primary he entered? Was there ever a chance that Paul would become the Republican nominee?

  • Sean Scallon on September 15, 2012 11:42 AM:

    "I should have let them have those Maine delegates."

    - Mitt Romney on Election Night Gary Johnson costs him Nevada, Colorado and New Hampshire.

  • BC on September 15, 2012 11:47 AM:

    Hehehehehe - you used "eloquent" and "Chris Christie" in the same sentence.

  • c u n d gulag on September 15, 2012 12:07 PM:

    Sean already mentioned Gary Johnson - he's a bigger threat to Mitt than a few Paulite delegates changing their votes.

    That's why Mitt's team is trying to deny him access to the ballots in all 50 states.

    Sure, Johnson might take a few of Obama's votes, but not anywhere near as many as those from Conservatives, Evangelicals, and Paulite's who can't stand Mitt the Twit.

  • JohnMcC on September 15, 2012 12:37 PM:

    Just for the record, there is a history of 'Electors' who go rogue. There's even a name for them: 'Faithless Electors'. Looking into it briefly it seems some of them achieved their notoriety by mixing up the names of Presidental and VicePresidential candidates somehow. Others proclaim their intentions proudly. A Mr Lloyd Bailey cast his electoral vote for George Wallace instead of Richard Nixon; his vote was actually challenged in the US Congress and his right to cast the 'wrong' ballot was affirmed by the Senate and House voting separately in the otherwise 'Joint Session' that officially hears the Electoral Vote. Google: thegreenpapers.com/hx/faithlesselectors.html

  • jjm on September 15, 2012 12:46 PM:

    Romney and his ilk will always choose form over substance, even in politics, where form doesn't really cut it.

    Alter the rules to favor our side? Done! Alienate those who would have liked a token recognition for an alternative candidate? Done!

  • bluestatedon on September 15, 2012 10:03 PM:

    From a purely retail politics standpoint, Mitt Romney has by far the worst instincts of any Presidential candidate I've seen since 1964. He doesn't have a tin ear; it's pure lead.

    It's amazing how Barack Obama has faced—with one exception—a string of incompetents in his major contests. Ryan destroys himself with a sleazy sex scandal, leaving the nutball Alan Keyes to run against Obama. Then grumpy McCain chooses a semi-literate half-term governor as his VP, galvanizing the Dems. Then all of the remotely capable GOP candidates decline to run in 2012, leaving the field to a motley collection of half-wits, Catholic ideologues, adulterous blowhards, and a Mormon weathervane.

    The only opponent who's ever been worthy is Hillary, and Obama was smart enough to put her in his cabinet.