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Disqualification flap mars RNC convention run-up

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International   |   July 1, 2012 at 5:01 AM   |   Comments

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The Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., is about two months away and already some jockeying has begun to try to induce delegates to switch allegiance.

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson is courting supporters of Republican candidate Ron Paul, hoping the shift in commitment will give his campaign momentum, U.S. News and World Report reported.

While libertarian-leaning Paul wants to influence the convention, set for Aug. 27-30, by collecting delegates during state conventions to be a force in Tampa, Johnson's goals are different. Johnson, who also sought to be this year's GOP presidential nominee, wants to make a strong showing in the November election.

Johnson has been granting media interviews to gain attention for his ideas and has bumped up his travel schedule.

He has also released a new video in which he urges Democrats and Republicans to back his candidacy.

"Take as many votes as possible away from the people in both parties keeping us in a state of perpetual war, increasing unsustainable debt, record joblessness, and a bipartisan economic death wish ruining America for 330 million of us," Johnson said in the video.

Meanwhile, Paul acknowledged he doesn't have enough delegates to influence the convention, but is asking for a floor speech or, at the least, an on-site meeting with presumptive nominee Mitt Romney.

"Unfortunately, we don't have quite enough [delegates] to take over the convention," Paul said on MSNBC.

"If I'm not going to be the nominee, the goal is to show that there's a political benefit toward accepting some of the views that we have," the U.S. representative from Texas said. "All I want to do, if I don't get a speech on the floor in the convention, all I want to do is have a meeting and say, 'Look, we have numbers, we have people, we have enthusiasm, we believe in something. Why don't you pay a little attention?' And actually I think they are. They don't know quite how to handle it."

Paul, who is focusing on state party conventions, told MSNBC he hasn't asked convention organizers for a speaking slot.

Paul says he sees no real difference between the Republican and Democratic parties.

"When it comes to the philosophy of government, there's not enough difference for me," Paul said. "I would like to change those convictions of the Republican Party because there were times when they had much better positions. And there's no reason why we can't restore those and improve upon them."

Asked about his views on Romney, Paul said, "I would say he has core convictions, but I just disagree with them."

A loophole in Republican National Convention rules opens the door for Paul backers to nominate him for vice president during the convention, possibly creating lengthy floor debate and a chaotic situation, The Hill said.

When asked if the campaign would rule out such an option, Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton didn't respond directly.

"We have to keep our cards pretty close to our vest on this thing," he said.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts -- a state that Romney governed -- a Wakefield man is crying foul after he and 16 other Liberty Caucus delegates were disqualified as convention delegates and alternates.

In the 6th Congressional District caucus, 18-year-old Evan Kenney, a Paul supporter, won a seat as an alternate to the convention, beating out the Romney campaign's slate of preferred delegates, WakefieldPatch.com said.

"Fast forward to May 25th, I got an affidavit in the mail," he said. "It was a poorly written thing that was totally legally invalid, but it said that I would affirm under penalty of perjury to vote for Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention."

The Boston Globe said this type of affidavit was never required before and is not in the Republican Party's rules.

Kenney and others delivered their affidavit swearing -- but not in a timely manner, the Globe said. They were disqualified.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts GOP wouldn't tell the Globe why the affidavits were required. The chairman in an e-mail said the Romney campaign, through its representative on his committee, could reject delegates for "just cause."

"There's been a lot of disappointment, a lot of disheartening, some anger that I realized I had to control it because if I get angry and lash out, those few elite Republicans win," Kenney said. "I feel I've been cheated."

Kenney didn't dismiss all Republicans for the actions of the state's "elite group of weasels," and called on the state GOP committee to reinstate the ousted delegates.

The political storm isn't the only potential turbulence convention planners have to consider. It's hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Debby's recent meandering in the Gulf of Mexico left streets surrounding the Tampa Bay Times Forum awash with mud and a reminder that weather must be considered, the Bradenton Herald reported.

However, Convention Chief Executive Officer William Harris said in a recent news release preparations for the RNC remain on schedule and the pace will pick up as the convention draws closer.

And there's another issue: the parade route for RNC protesters and celebrants, TampaBayOnline.com said.

Businesses along the 0.7-mile route that includes views of parking lots, vacant property and old industrial buildings said they received little warning about any RNC-sanctioned protest marches outside their front doors.

Allegra Printing & Imaging shop, owned by Joel Routman, is one such business.

"No one is telling us anything," Routman said. "We're on the official vendor list, so anyone who needs printing for the RNC can come here. But if all the streets are closed around us for this route, how would any customers get here, and how would we get out? We might as well close for the week."

"How's anyone going to get here?" asked Paul's Auto Alignment owner Nelson Castallano. "We might as well close for that week. Will anyone compensate us for that?"

City Attorney James Shimberg said a number factors came into play in developing the route, such as following case law that suggest the route must be within sight and sound of the convention site and also because city officials didn't want to disrupt the main arterial roads used by downtown commuters.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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