WASHINGTON, May 14, 2012 — Chaos erupted at the Oklahoma GOP convention on Saturday when supporters of Ron Paul and Mitt Romney came to blows, necessitating the intervention of the police.
If the Oklahoma state convention is any indication, mainstream Republicans have plenty to worry about come this summer at their convention in Tampa. What happened in Oklahoma made the brouhaha at the Arizona convention also held this weekend look tame, even though Mitt Romney’s son Josh was booed off the stage by Paul enthusiasts. Outside the convention hall at Grand Canyon University, Paul supporters could be heard chanting, “Romney is the white Obama.”
Inside the battle for Arizona’s delegates raged as it did in Oklahoma, where more than 600 Paul supporters or 40% of the convention were there as state delegates. However, Oklahoma turned decidely ugly when the Republicans decided to take a voice vote to determine which candidate would get the 25 national delegates and 25 alternates rather than using the traditional and longer method of roll call.
Not even speakers former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty or Oklahoma’s own Governor Mary Fallin could quell the crowd, getting heckled for their efforts instead.
Finally tensions exploded after the controversial vote went against Paul and a Romney supporter allegedly punched a Paul supporter in the back of the head.
In another incident, two women got into a hitting match over the vote. A video from Oklahoma City NBC affiliate KFOR showed what happened at the convention when emotions reached fever pitch.
The convention was then abruptly shut down when the dividers began to close and the lights were turned off, forcing everyone outside.
If something similar happens at the national GOP convention on live television, it would be the Republican Party’s worst nightmare and could tank the Romney candidacy. The GOP is now bracing for that worse case scenario, especially as they see Paul supporters picking up delegates left behind by primary candidates who have dropped out and by Paul partisans who have swamped different state conventions, culling delegates, and even winning control of the delegate majorities in Maine and Nevada.
So what is the Ron Paul agenda for the GOP convention? Last week, Congressman Paul told CNN, “”It certainly isn’t for the reason of disrupting the convention. I’m in it for very precise reasons: to maximize our efforts to get as many delegates as we can. I’m still a candidate, and to promote something that is very, very important, that is a change in the direction for the Republican Party.”
That may be candidate Paul’s game plan, but if this weekend is any foreshadowing of what’s to come, that may turn out not to be the case. Especially if Ron Paul loses control of his rabid partisans, who are not prepared to give an inch, much less support Mitt Romney.
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