Ron Paul’s last hope of challenging Mitt Romney for the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention comes this Saturday at the Nebraska state GOP convention. If he gets a plurality of delegates in Nebraska, Paul’s name will be put forward for nomination, and he will be given 15 minutes to speak before the first round of balloting in Tampa — an embarrassing situation that Romney wants to avoid.
With the stakes high, both the Paul and Romney campaigns are working hard to make sure their side wins in Nebraska.
Romney and Paul supporters have been “burning up the phone lines,” the executive director of the state GOP Jordan McGrain told the website Nebraska Watchdog.
According to the Republican National Committee’s rules, Paul needs a plurality of delegates from at least five states in order to have his name put forward at the convention. He currently has four: the delegations from Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and Louisiana. Nebraska is the last state to hold its convention, and could become the crucial fifth state for Paul.
In anticipation of what could be a divided convention, the Nebraska GOP is ramping up security for the event. ”It’s been communicated to us from other RNC members from around the country to watch for specific things,” McGrain told NBC News.
“Their experience has been instructive to us. We’ve received correspondence from those who attended the Nevada and Louisiana state conventions where they had significant disturbances and problems. It arose from not everyone being on the same page and we have the benefit of that hindsight.”
Ron Paul officially suspended his campaign in May. At the time, he said he was shifting focus to bringing delegates to the convention in order to influence the party platform. After several rowdy state conventions, Paul’s campaign stressed decorum to supporters in the event that their key issues make it to the national convention.
But Paul supporters have continued making waves at state conventions, racking up delegates and clashing with Romney supporters. In Nevada, Paul supporters took over not just the convention delegation but also the party’s executive board spots at a contentious convention, prompting some mainstream Republican leaders in the party to step down.
Paul supporters in Nebraska say they aren’t looking for trouble this weekend. Laura Ebke, chairwoman the libertarian group that is leading the effort to get Paul delegates in Nebraska, told the Associated Press that there was no disruption planned “unless the party instigates something.”
“There have been instances around the country where there have been some scuffles,” said Ebke. “But all of them that I know of have taken place as a result of the party failing to follow its own rules.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.