Pulling up the ladder

Republican leaders are making plans to prevent any more Ron Paul problems in future elections.

Paul, a member of Congress from Texas and sometime Republican, ran for president this year and has won some victories in state conventions that he could not win from the public.

Nevada is one of those states. Paul came in third, behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, in the Nevada caucuses in February. But his passionate followers organized skillfully to take over the Nevada Republican Convention in Sparks last month, taking all of the state’s elective delegates to the national convention in Florida this week.

In Iowa, candidates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney battled to a near-tie in the caucuses only to see the state’s delegates go to Paul.

The same happened in a couple of other states. So a GOP body called the Republican National Convention Committee (RNCC) proposed delegate selection rules that say caucuses and primaries, not conventions, will decide who gets state delegates. How that would be done is unclear. Technically, last month’s Nevada convention was in compliance with that notion. Its national convention delegates are all Paulists, but they are all pledged to vote on the first ballot in concert with the Nevada caucus results—that is, for Mitt Romney.

The RNCC is also expected to propose a rule giving candidates a right to decide who their delegates are. But that rule existed during this year’s nominating race, and Romney or his campaign did not exercise it in Nevada or other states.

“Overall, the [proposed] change appears to be a blow to anyone considering taking the path Paul took this year and is also a recognition that the current rules leave room for discord at the convention, which is bad for party unity,” the Washington Post reported.

National convention nominating delegates were once free agents, able to move back and forth between candidates in national conventions that were fluid and went beyond one ballot. But first the Democrats and then the Republicans have been imposing more and more rules that “bind” delegates. The proposed GOP rules, like earlier Democratic rules changes, tend to aid frontrunners.