A minor revolt broke out on the floor of the Republican Party’s presidential convention Tuesday afternoon and evening. Ron Paul delegates from several states erupted into protest over a controversial change to the party’s rules to block future insurgencies mounted by outside candidates like their hero. Paul supporters also freaked out over the convention’s refusal to recognize about two dozen Paul delegates and for refusing to treat Paul like a serious candidate for the nomination.
During the roll call of the states, the Paulites were irate, screaming at the podium, as convention secretary Kim Reynolds declined to read out the delegate votes for any candidate other than Romney. “The Republican Party is so afraid of Ron Paul that they won’t repeat his name,” shouted Jim Ayala, a Nevada delegate and Paul supporter wearing an Oath Keepers T-shirt.
Minutes earlier, the Paulites were enraged when the convention adopted the new set of rules on a voice vote during which the Paul backers out-shouted the other delegates. One Nevada delegate and Paul supporter, Mark Carducci, thrust two middle fingers into the air toward RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), screaming “Fuck you, tyrants!” (That’s him in the above picture.)
The Republican National Committee had altered the convention rules to bind delegates in future elections to vote for the candidate who wins their state’s primary or caucus. This change would hurt outsider candidates like Paul, who collected 158 delegates during the Republican primary season. The RNC also refused to recognize Paul’s delegates from Maine, and this incensed his many supporters, leading to a nasty yelling match on the convention floor immediately before Mitt Romney’s nomination. “Seat them now!” the Paulites yelled.
Roger Leahy, an Iowa delegate and Paul supporter, says he and other Paulites had pleaded with Reynolds to recognize Paul during the roll call, but she would not. “This is the Republican steamroller,” Leahy said.
All this led to the unseated Maine Paul delegates storming out of the convention together. And a pack of angry Paul fans all clad in white ballcaps left the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Romney campaign and the RNC had hoped to avoid this kind of floor flight, large or small, during the convention. But once it was done, the convention proceeded and Romney was nominated, to polite applause.
Following the dustup, Yelena Vorobyov (pictured below), a 30-year-old Paul delegate from Apple Valley, Minnesota, was eager to vent. Barely taking a breath, she said: “This is just evidence of the manipulation of the Republican Party. They’re not even allowing us to bring signs in, but they brought in their own [pro-Romney] signs. We couldn’t nominate Ron Paul. The ‘no’ for not passing the rules was louder than the ‘aye’ and they ruled in favor of the rules. They’re cheating. The Republican National Committee is not transparent and does not have integrity. They stole votes. They stole delegates. They refused to send buses for our delegates. It’s a totalitarian process. This is not democracy. It’s a really sad day for us. I’ve worked for Republican candidates since I was 16. We believed the Republican Party had more integrity. Boy, did they prove us wrong.”