Ron Paul may have ceased spending money on the remaining Presidential primaries, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want the job.
His delegates are working hard across the country to give him a stronger voice at the Republican National Convention from Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla. Presumptive nominee Mitt Romney has collected 973 delegates out of the 1,144 needed for the official nomination.
A libertarian icon known for unconventional positions, Paul has 104 delegates. He said he is now concentrating on a strategy to gather delegates to the national convention.
“Ron Paul is not and has not suspended his campaign,” said Brent Tweed, the Ron Paul supporter who was elected chairman of the Republican State Convention on May 5 at the Augusta Civic Center.
Tweed said Paul campaign officials will no longer invest in the remaining primary states, but they will continue to work at winning delegates to the national convention at district and state conventions.
“Our delegates to the national convention will still try to secure the nomination for Ron Paul,” Tweed said.
Ron Paul supporters in Maine showed that they are serious in securing that nomination on May 5 when they upended the Maine Republican State Convention, sweeping the GOP establishment by electing their own officers to run the convention and picking 18 of 24 delegates to the national convention.
The Paul supporters first took control on Saturday, electing their own chairman and secretary. Then on Sunday, they secured a majority of the state’s national delegates.
In addition, a bloc of Ron Paul supporters was elected to the Maine Republican State Committee. Thirty-four out of 50 won seats on the 80-member committee, giving Paul supporters close to a majority voice.
But the pandemonium in the process deprived Maine legislative candidates of the opportunity to be heard and robbed six Republican candidates for U.S. Senate of the podium.
With only a month until primary elections, the convention was the place the U.S. Senate candidates hoped they could distinguish themselves from their rivals. Rick Bennett, Scott D’Amboise, Bruce Poliquin, Bill Schneider, Deb Plowman and Charlie Summers were unable to address their supporters.
Long-time Ron Paul supporter Brent Tweed, 33, a nuclear engineer who works at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and is the married father of two young children, was elected chairman of the convention. He is a registered Republican, as are most Paul supporters. But he said his views are libertarian, and he wants to change the direction of the country.Relatively unknown Ron Paul supporters bested the GOP establishment with a simple strategy: get organized, get energized and—most importantly—show up.
It’s not necessarily that the Maine Republicans don’t have a good platform, Tweed said. “The Republicans have always had a decent platform,” he said. “But our agenda is not just to have a nice platform.”
Tweed and many of the Ron Paul supporters were bitterly disappointed that President George W. Bush and Republicans in Washington greatly expanded the size and scope of government. They are tired and frustrated that Republicans always talk about reducing government, but it turns out to be nothing more than lip service.
“I want Republicans who will actually cut the size of government,” he said. “Ron Paul always votes against tax increases and to reduce government.”
The national debt is unsustainable, Tweed said, and supporters don’t want Republicans in office who continue to use government as a “cradle-to-grave” entitlement service.
He became very disillusioned with the Republican Party during Bush’s second term. “In 2004, I believed that he was honest about being a limited-government kind of person,” Tweed said. “But he was really just a big-government liberal. He didn’t do anything to reduce the size of government. The Republicans do not stand for what they say they do.”
He said Ron Paul supporters will not support “compromise candidates,” and they will not support RINOs. “I put principles first,” Tweed said. “Mitt Romney is a Republican. That’s not enough for me. What does he stand for? He stood for bigger government, socialized health care, gun control. He’s a Democrat. He’s a RINO. No, I’m not going to support him.”
Tweed said if Republicans at the national convention are looking for cheerleaders, they won’t find them with Ron Paul supporters. “I put Mitt Romney in the same category as Obama,” he said. “I’m going to be bold here. Obama winning—and I don’t like Obama—is better than Romney winning.”
Tweed said that Mitt Romney is in the same category of Obama. “They both agree with same policies and principles,” he said. “Neither will cut the overall size of government. They’re not going to cut the deficit. I don’t see any difference between the two of them. If Mitt Romney wins, Republicans will cheerlead behind him, and we will get bigger government at a slower pace. Just like George Bush.”
If Romney was a Democrat, Republicans would hate him, Tweed said. “We want to get principled Republicans elected,” he said. “Ron Paul’s time in Congress has been a perfect example of what a legislator should be. He has always voted against tax increase and increasing the size of government.”
Tweed acknowledges that securing the nomination for Paul may be a long shot. But he sees the movement as an opportunity for Paul to spread his message and educate the public. “Yes, we want to elect him,” Tweed said. “But to change the course of the country, we need to educate people.”
Although word was simmering for weeks that Ron Paul supporters were planning to show up in force at the convention, their victories astonished even veteran political watchers.
So had did it happen? “We were just really well organized going into the convention,” said Tweed. “We knew it would be close.”
The Paul supporters had two goals: first, they wanted to win a majority of delegates to the national convention. Second, they wanted to win some other positions in Maine’s GOP. “We now have a near-majority on the State Committee,” Tweed said.
The supporters are determined to help Ron Paul secure the Republican nomination for President at the national convention in August in Tampa, Fla. “We don’t buy into the mass media’s notion that Mitt Romney has the nomination locked up,” Tweed said.
The nomination isn’t official until the national convention, he said. “We believe we can get a majority.”
He also said that Ron Paul supporters don’t believe that Romney won the Maine caucuses, since GOP Chairman Charlie Webster declared the caucuses over before results were tallied from three Maine counties.
Tweed said the Paul supporters were determined to have a strong presence at the convention, hopefully a slight majority. “Some people said we were trying to disrupt the convention,” Tweed said. “That’s not true. We were trying to run as many national delegates as we can. We just didn’t want to be railroaded by the establishment.”
After he saw the turnout on Friday of the convention, Tweed said he began feeling very optimistic. That optimism, which resulted in the “takeover” of the convention, was a culmination of a grassroots effort to organize support for Paul, which began gathering steam last summer. Paul campaign officials came to Maine in November to help strengthen the organization.
Tweed first became Ron Paul supporter back in 2007. A graduate of UMaine-Orono, he had always been interested in politics and was a “news junkie,” even as a high school student in his hometown of Limestone. But his parents never spoke much of politics, and he did not register as a Republican when he was 18.
“I was a clean slate,” Tweed said, who had not yet been influenced by either party.
He didn’t really know what either party stood for, only that they seemed to bicker back and forth and never really accomplish anything.
He voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, when he registered as a Republican. Around 2003, “I stared to consider myself a Republican,” he said. But that was before he knew about libertarian views.
When he saw Texas Congressman Ron Paul in the Presidential debates of 2007, “everything he said stuck with me,” Tweed said. He liked that Paul wanted to get rid of the income tax and the IRS. Paul is known for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets and a return to the gold standard.
“I was more of a neo-con on foreign policy back then,” Tweed said. “He really turned me around with his views on foreign policy.” After reading a book about Paul’s views on foreign policy, he said he realized he had been “conned by the neo-cons.”
At first, he thought that neo-cons’ foreign policy was to secure American liberty and safety. “I thought they cared about American freedom. But then I came to realize that freedom and liberty are not the goals of the neo-cons. They’re really not about liberty at all.”
Tweed said neo-cons are nothing more than “big-government people. They are con artists.”
Tweed starting getting involved at the grassroots level in the town, county and state efforts to support Ron Paul. Now living in North Berwick, he became the Maine Campaign for Liberty Region 1 coordinator for the Ron Paul campaign in 2011.
Because of his years of experience supporting Paul and because he studied Robert’s Rules of Order—as well as the Republican Party rules—he was selected to run for chairman of the state convention.
“We decided that it would be good to have Ron Paul supporters run the convention,” he said. “It was important to make sure that his supporters got a fair shake.”
Tweed said he met several times with Republican officials to make sure Ron Paul supporters would have a voice at the convention. “We tried to work with them beforehand,” Tweed said. “They were aware at least a couple of weeks ahead of time that we wanted to run a chair. We were willing to work with Ann Robinson as chairman of the convention,” since Ron Paul supporters were confident that she would run the convention with integrity.
But talks broke down with the Republicans, and the GOP chose to run former judge and Republican stalwart Charles Cragin as chairman. Cragin had presided at several Maine GOP conventions, but Tweed said he did not know him personally.
“I said I’d run as chairman, and Republicans could run a vice-chairman,” Tweed said. “They weren’t willing to make a deal.”
Tweed beat out Cragin for a chairman in a virtual dead heat, winning with a four-vote victory, 1,114 to 1,118. Cragin, a Romney supporter, characterized the commotion at the convention as “bizarre,” predicting that the Maine delegation may not get seated at the national convention.
While Cragin contended that the process violated state and national committee rules, Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster said that the votes would stand. Webster said Maine Republicans would now focus their efforts on fighting to make sure the delegates are seated at the national convention.
After the statements Cragin made after the convention, Tweed said he was glad that he won the right to chair the convention. Cragin implied there was anarchy at the convention because the Ron Paul supporters didn’t follow the rules, he said.
“It just highlights that he probably would have railroaded us,” Tweed said.
He noted that Ron Paul supporters used a motion to suspend the rules at he convention, which is a proper procedure clearly spelled out in Robert’s Rules.
While some have charged that a few Ron Paul delegates at the conventions were actually Democrats, Tweed said he didn’t know about that. “I don’t of anyone there who was a Democrat,” he said. “As far as I know, they are all Republicans.”
Tweed said Ron Paul supporters would stay active in the Republican party. “It’s healthy for the Republican party,” he said. “I see a lot of young people supporting Ron Paul that I don’t see at the Republican committee meetings. They need to embrace these young people, even if they are not going to agree 100 percent of the time. If the party doesn’t accept these people, it will be shooting itself in the foot.”