Mitt Romney may very well be officially anointed the GOP nominee at this summer's Republican national convention in Tampa, but if this weekend's Iowa Republican State Convention is any indication, Ron Paul supporters will do everything in their power to make it difficult for Romney to lock up the nomination without a fight.
Ron Paul supporters came out in full during the Iowa Convention on Friday night and Saturday, and caused such a stir that the person at the front of the room had to say, "This is not going well."
After a raucous primary season in which Massachusetts governor was initially declared the winner of the Iowa Caucus back in January, but then Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Snatourm was declared the winner after a recount, party organizers called for unity during Saturday's event. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley told the crowd to support Romney in Tampa.
But, Ron Paul supporters had their own plans. They've been organizing for Paul ever since January in Iowa, as a part of their delegate strategy. While Paul has yet to win a primary contest outright, he has focused on winning support at state conventions and caucuses, where grassroots organizing can be more effective, in order to swing delegates into his camp.
In Iowa, at least, this strategy seems to be working. Of the 28 Iowa delegates up for a vote at hte convention, 23 support Paul. And, they are unbound, so they can vote for whomever they decide is the better candidate for America.
Paul supporters believe internal struggle with the GOP could actually be good for the party, forcing Romney to run a stronger campaign and grapple with libertarian issues. They are hoping to thrust Paul's ideas into the spotlight in Tampa, so that Romney is forced to contend with Paul's issues, or perhaps even nominate Paul to a high-level cabinet position.
Iowa is not the first place where Paul supporters have staged a massive presence and rally. Paul backers also came out in droves at conventions in Maine and Nevada. He was able to capture 32 of the 40 national delegates in Minnesota. In Louisiana, GOP officials and Paul supporters clashed, and two Paul supporters were arrested after the convention devolved into two separate conventions (with seperate delegate slates) and they refused to leave.
What the ideal outcome is for Paul supporters is an entirely different question. Many Paul supporters feel it was a sellout for the libertarian candidate's son Rand Paul to support Mitt Romney. That's because they believe Romney is part of the GOP establishment. Thus, they might not be looking for Romney to nominate Ron Paul for a cabinet position. Others have said they want Paul to be given a prime-time speaking spot at the Tampa convention, to put his views on national display before the country.
Whatever the case, Ron Paul is not going away before Tampa, and that's more than any other of the potential GOP nominees can say.