TAMPA, Fla.—Backers of Rep. Ron Paul made themselves heard on the convention floor Tuesday, booing and shouting in anger as party officials moved to pass new delegate rules governing future Republican primary contests.
The ruckus on the floor came just ahead of the roll call vote that officially nominated Mitt Romney.
As the Convention’s permanent chairman, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), declared the new rules passed despite loud objections from Paul supporters on the floor.
Maine’s alternate delegates walked out chanting, “As we go, so goes the nation.” Some members of the Texas delegation followed Maine’s chorus with their own calls for, “Point of order,” but to no avail. Though the “yeas” rivaled the “neas,” on the voice vote, Boehner quickly moved on.
Things quieted inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum as quickly as they escalated, when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell took to the podium to herald in the GOP’s official platform. But in the Forum’s halls, the Maine alternates were making their hopeless case for inclusion to anyone who would hear them.
Maine’s delegation agreed at the state convention to put a motion forward at the RNC, ensuring their 20 duly elected delegates would be seated. “In the last couple weeks there was an effort to unseat those delegates,” says Jed Curtis, a Maine alternate. “As the motion appears to have failed, the Secret Service came to escort us out—though walking out was our intention.”
Curtis’s fellow alternates cried, “Shame on Mitt Romney,” and “This is going to happen to your states next,” to passersby, as they took their leave. The alternates’ leader, Eric Brakey, fought back tears and reassured fellow delegates with hugs as he headed for the exit.
“You avoid this in the future by paying attention to all the voices in the Republican Party and not ignoring delegates because they have a different voice,” Brakey said. “And don’t appoint people from states like California and Arkansas to a committee to select Maine’s delegates. Mainers should be elected by Mainers.”