Nearly two dozen Iowans who support Ron Paul are delegates at the Republican National Convention this week and while the convention’s opening day has been canceled because of the tropical storm bearing down on Tampa, this group of Paul backers is focused on storm brewing within the GOP.
Iowa Republicans sent 28 delegates to the convention, 23 of whom support Ron Paul. Delegate Mark Hansen of Council Bluffs is hoping to get to vote for Ron Paul on the convention floor.
“Historically they always do the nomination on Wednesday and they’ve been talking about moving that up to Monday and now with Monday being out, it might be on Tuesday,” Hansen said today. “We’re really in the dark right now.”
Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum issued statements in the past few days, releasing their delegates to the convention so they may vote for Mitt Romney, but Ron Paul has not. Iowa delegate Dusty Juhl of Ames said Romney has the nomination “pretty sewn up”
“I don’t expect there to be any controversy or problems, I don’t expect there to be any disruption on the floor,” Juhl told Radio Iowa this morning. “We all know where the votes stand and Mitt Romney will be the nominee.”
But Juhl does expect objections will be raised about proposed party rules for the next presidential nominating season in 2016. Delegates from each state to the GOP’s national convention would be bound by the results of primaries and caucuses. That would prevent what’s happened this year in Iowa with Ron Paul supporters comprising more than 80 percent of the Iowa delegation even though Paul finished third in the Caucuses. Backers of the change, like Governor Branstad, say it’s the fair way to ensure the candidates who win a state’s primary or caucus win an equal share of delegates from the state. Juhl, the Iowa delegate from Ames, will be among the delegates who vote against the idea.
“I’m very concerned about some of the rule changes and I’m sure there will be a lot of heated debate on the floor whenever we the convention convenes, be it Monday or Tuesday,” Juhl said.
Today, thousands of Ron Paul supporters gathered at a Tampa stadium for a rally. Delegate Steve Anders of Council Bluffs and his wife made their way to event wearing Ron Paul t-shirts they got year ago at the Iowa Straw Poll.
“We don’t know what to expect. There’s a lot of indecision and everything about what’s going to happen and pretty have a divided camp in the Republican Party — the establishment versus Ron Paul,” Anders said. “That’s what we’re going to see. We’re here to support Ron Paul.”
The Paul backers like Hansen also are upset over a decision to deny convention spots to a group of delegates from the state of Maine who backs Ron Paul.
“We’re hoping that gets cleaned up a little bit here and that we get their debates seated at the convention,” Hansen said.
Sarah Stokes of Cedar Falls, an alternate delegate from Iowa, signed a petition hoping to help her fellow Ron Paul supporters from the state of Maine.
“When the Republican National Committee) just changes the rules midgame, it kind of makes it no fun to play with them anymore,” Stokes said this morning. “It’s pretty upsetting and I don’t know what we can do, but certainly if there is anything we can do, I know most of us are willing to do it.”
The chairman of the Republican National Committee announced Saturday that the convention would not meet Monday because of severe weather forecast for the Tampa Bay area. The Iowa delegation is stationed at a hotel that sits right on the beach and delegates could watch the storm sweep in across the water today.