The Republicans’ Paul Problem

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - June 04, 2008
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The recent Republican Hawaii state convention elicited considerable criticism and some hard feelings, particularly among the minority of Ron Paul (yes, he’s still hangin’ around) delegates, but also among some of the Republican true-blue (or, in this case, true-red). GOP leadership has been accused of scripting the proceedings to ensure a certain outcome and for cutting short the debate on election of delegates to the national convention, and on “rules” and “platform” changes.

There is an element of truth to these accusations, but it’s time for the “the rest of the story” to be told.

In 1988 Ron Paul ran for president as a Libertarian. Although there is some overlap of Republican and Libertarian principles, to this day the Texas congressman remains dedicated to those Libertarian principles most unlike those of Republicans. Nevertheless, in the current election he chose to run, debate and campaign as a Republican. He espouses repeal of the Patriot Act, immediate withdrawal from Iraq (regardless of the fact we are winning) and a kamikaze foreign policy of isolationism.

As one might expect, he lost big time. Yet he persists in pursuing a last gasp nomination effort at the Republican national convention, or at least to disrupt the nomination process of the primary winner, Sen. John McCain. Given the likely mass-media spin, this would be perceived disproportionately as a lack of party unity in support of McCain, which could be detrimental in a close national contest against the Democrat’s nominee.

In several Mainland states - well below Hawaii’s radar - there has been an ongoing “delegate war” in county and state conventions. Paul supporters, well-financed by his national campaign treasury and characteristically young and techsavvy, have maximized use of the Internet and blogging to preplan their “guerrilla convention tactics,” which include text messaging on the convention floor, disrupting the parliamentary procedures with tedious stalling tactics, handwritten amendments to resolutions, endless motions, points of order, or as one “stealth delegate” put it, “whatever it takes to wear down the majority” and, as a last resort, literally shouting down the convention chairman.

This hit an all-time low in Reno during the Nevada Republican convention when the Paul delegates literally hijacked the proceedings and became so aggressive that the chairman, a Nevada congressman, had to be escorted from the facility under protective guard as the Paul delegates chanted “McCain, warmonger!” and “F—- McCain!” No Nevada delegates were elected to the national convention.

Within minutes of the opening gavel of the Hawaii convention, the Libertarians showed their intentions with specious and irrelevant motions from the floor. The Hawaii Republican leadership, however, dedicated to a united front in support of McCain and forewarned by the crude and disruptive tactics of Paul supporters on the Mainland, implemented a pre-emptive plan that precluded the Paulists from gaining any traction.

Discussion of rules changes and party platform changes were finessed because it would have opened the door for the dissidents to fire off their entire quiver of parliamentary arrows, thereby jeopardizing the election process to follow.

As for the election of delegates to the national convention, every state delegate was briefed on the situation before the voting and had the option of voting with the slate of proven McCain supporters (many of whom earlier supported Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani or Mike Huckabee) or of using the traditional ballot to write in candidates of their choice, including Paul supporters.

The vast majority of delegates there understood what is truly at stake here and are united in their belief that these are unprecedented, perilous times for America and that this election is arguably the most important presidential election of our generation. They believe our next president must be the wisest, most-experienced, most life-tested candidate who truly understands the nature of our enemy and can lead us safely through these stormy seas.

Granted, there is much work to be done in Hawaii’s GOP, and that will follow in the coming months. But for Republicans, the focus for now must be the Hawaii delegation at the national convention in Minneapolis, which will stand united - with pride and aloha - to cast all of Hawaii’s votes for Sen. John McCain.

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