GRAND ISLAND — Ron Paul ‘s last stand in Nebraska failed today, as establishment Republicans fought off an attempt by Paul supporters to garner enough delegates at the state GOP convention to give Paul a shot at the national stage in Tampa, Fla., next month.
Paul supporters won only two of Nebraska’s 35 delegates to the national Republican convention, far short of the 18 they needed.
Even though Paul stopped campaigning months ago, his supporters had hoped to use a national party rule which allows a candidate to be nominated if they have a plurality of delegates in five states. Paul had four, and Nebraska was his last chance at five.
And although there was some worry that Nebraska’s state GOP convention could be chaotic and unruly – as happened in other states where Paulistas virtually took control of the convention – the convention went off without a hitch.
Early in the day, Paul supporters made several motions that tested the water, and it was clear they didn’t have the votes to offset the establishment Republicans. The leader of the Paul movement said Gov. Dave Heineman made a lot of phone calls to ensure Republicans remained allegiant to Mitt Romney. A strong Paul showing would have been an embarrassment to the governor, who was the first governor to endorse Romney and has been mentioned as a possible cabinet pick.
“The governor was well-organized,” said Laura Ebke, a blogger for Red State Electric and chairwoman of the Tea Party/Paul-supporting Republican Liberty Caucus. “We were out-numbered and that’s the way it works.”
GOP Chairman Mark Fahleson said the convention went better than he expected, and he credited Ebke and other Paul supporters for their professionalism, congeniality and cooperation. Ebke also credited Fahleson with running a “really fair convention.”
“We prepared for the worst and we got the best,” Fahleson said.
In his convention speech, outgoing national committeeman Pete Ricketts welcomed Paul supporters, saying the party needs them and has a big tent. He urged Paul supporters to stay involved, saying it’s about more than one person or one election.
“We’ve established a presence and we’ll be back,” Ebke said in an interview.
Heineman did not attend the convention because he was chairing the National Governors Association meeting in Virginia – while Louisiana’s governor skipped the governors’ meeting to speak at Nebraska’s convention.
Rising Republican star Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, skipped Virginia and went to Grand Island to stump for Romney. He has been mentioned as a potential Romney running mate.
Jindal praised U.S. Senate candidate Deb Fischer, calling her Democratic opponent Bob Kerrey “a fine American” who is on the wrong side of too many issues.
“We don’t need to bring New York values to Nebraska,” he said. “We might need to send Nebraska values to New York.”
Then he hammered away at President Obama, calling him “the most incompetent president since Jimmy Carter.” He said the recent Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare allows the government to tax “inactivity.”
“Can they tax us for not eating tofu?” he said.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Reported by Deena Winter, [email protected]
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