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Romney Supporters Attempting to Unseat Maine's Ron Paul Delegates
07/30/2012   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

Maine supporters of Texas Congressman Ron Paul outmaneuvered state Republican leaders this spring when they successfully seized control of the GOP state convention and elected 14 of their own as delegates to the Republican National Convention. Now the state GOP establishment is striking back by lodging a formal challenge to the seating of those pro-Paul delegates with the RNC committee. Republican leaders said the delegates' election process was illegal. But Paul supporters said it's sour grapes.

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Ron Paul's enthusiastic supporters said they followed the rules when they elected one of their own as presiding officer of the Republican State Convention and went on to claim 14 delegateS to the Republican National Convention. But establishment Republicans said the Paul followers acted illegally. They want RNC committee to unseat he Maine delegates when they arrive in Tampa next month for the convention. Charlie Cragin, a supporter of Mitt Romney, said the final decision may rest on whether the RNC committee knows a subversive when they see one.

"After about the 15th time you've gotten up in front of the microphone, a presiding officer does have the ability to invoke a parliamentary rule that suggests that you are engaging in dilatory tactics and rule you out of order," Cragin said.

Cragin said as far as presiding officer Brent Tweed was concerned, it didn't matter if the person objecting had been up to microphone before or not.

"And as you recall there were many attempts to question the existence of a quorum and each of those attempts was ruled out of order by the presiding officer," Cragin said.

Cragin is a government affairs counselor with an Augusta lobbying firm who has extensive experience in Washington in military affairs and national security. He lost his bid to become chair of the GOP state convention this spring when Paul supporters elected Tweed. He saids the Maine challenge to the Paul delegates is the result of a failure between members of the Romney and Paul organizations to reach a compromise. Romney is the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, but Paul's supporters maintain their candidate still holds a plurality in at least five states. That's the minimum threshold he must meet in order to be on the ballot at the convention. Paul has not endorsed Romney, nor has he suspended his presidential bid and his supporters want him to have a prominent speaking role at the convention. Cragin said Romney's supporters do not want their candidate's victory diminished by a competing message from Paul.

"This is Mitt Romney's convention," Cragin said. "He's the presumptive nominee and he will be the nominee and therefore his folks are very engaged in making determinations as to who will speak at the convention, when they will speak at the convention and to a great extent what they will said when they speak at the convention. So when you're dealing with outliers, there's a substantial negotiating process that takes place."

Outlier is hardly a word that Matt McDonald, a GOP national convention delegate from Belfast and Paul supporter, would use to describe his candidate. He expects all 14 of Maine's unbound delegates who support Paul will be seated by the convention committee. But Paul's delegates to the national convention are facing challenges in other states and McDonald saids there will be some unhappy people in Tampa if they are not allowed in.

"The things are in place for it to get out of hand and I just pray that it doesn't," McDonald said.

McDonald said Paul should be allowed to address the convention in a meaningful way and that his followers should have a said in the party platform. McDonald said the challenge to the convention committee in Maine is prompted by former gubernatorial candidate Peter Cianchette's support for Romney and establishment Republican Jan Staples' failure to retain her post of national committeewoman.

"She's been the national committeewoman for quite a while and she lost her position to Ashly Ryan at the convention," McDondald said. "Ashley's the youngest national committeewoman ever, 21 years old. And ever since then Jan has just, it's been sour grapes," McDonald said.

The convention committee can either seat some, all or none of the Paul supporters or accept a slate of substitute delegates suggested by Cianchette and Staples.


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