Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul won’t spend more money to compete in primary elections, while trying to collect more national convention delegates at state gatherings that could give him a greater voice in the party.
Paul, 76, said in a statement yesterday he won’t officially end his White House bid and will “carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention” in Tampa, Florida, Aug. 27-30. His candidacy has provided a platform for his libertarian views, such as ending most taxes and auditing and dismantling the Federal Reserve.
“There are strong things we can accomplish by continuing this campaign, Jesse Benton, Paul’s chief strategist, said today on a conference call with reporters. He said Paul supporters will use convention delegates to push for a Republican platform that includes changes at the Fed and ending indefinite detention of people held for national security reasons.
It’s “still up for grabs” whether Paul supporters will vote for presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the Nov. 6 general election against President Barack Obama, Benton said. Paul is unlikely to formally endorse Romney, Benton said, adding “never say never.”
Romney has 973 delegates, with 1,144 needed for the nomination, according to the Associated Press, and is favored to gain most of those at stake today in primaries in Nebraska and Oregon.
Paul, who was Romney’s last active challenger, has 104 in the AP tally. Romney “very likely has an insurmountable delegate lead,” Benton said.
The nine presidential primaries remaining after today, which include California’s June 5 contest, wrap up on June 26 when Utah votes. Romney should surpass the needed nomination number well before the Utah primary, and perhaps as soon as later this month.
Paul’s announcement yesterday was largely a reflection of sagging campaign finances. He said in his statement that spending money on any of the states that have yet to vote in Republican presidential primaries “would take many tens of millions of dollars that we simply do not have.”
His campaign had $1.8 million cash on hand at the end of March, according to U.S. Federal Election Commission reports.
Paul supporters have been aggressively seeking delegates at state party conventions, including in Maine on May 5 where they won a majority of its delegation. Paul plans to attend the May 18-19 Minnesota Republican convention and 19 and believes he can win there, too, Benton said.
Campaign manager John Tate sent an e-mail last week that sought to distance the candidate from what Tate called a “hostile takeover” of delegates in Idaho.
“The Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign condemns efforts to expand its influence in the Republican Party in Idaho and beyond when these activities are couched as vengeful, underhanded, or markedly distasteful,” Tate said.
Paul supporter Ryan Davidson, a Republican official in Ada County, Idaho, advocated a “scorched earth” tactic of securing delegates at the June 22 state convention, the Idaho Statesman reported.
“If two-thirds of the delegates to the Idaho state convention are Ron Paul supporters, they can vote to suspend the rules, overturn the results of the caucus and award all the national delegates to Ron Paul,” Davidson said in a training video, according to the Statesman.
This is Paul’s third bid for the presidency, having run as the Libertarian Party’s nominee in 1988 and in the 2008 Republican contest, in which Senator John McCain of Arizona won the nomination.
Paul, a former obstetrician-gynecologist, announced earlier this year he wouldn’t seek re-election to his congressional seat. His son, Rand Paul, is a Republican senator from Kentucky.
Paul’s views -- which include a return to the gold standard and bringing home most U.S. troops from overseas -- have gained him devoted followers.
“I am the defender of the Constitution, I am the champion of liberty,” he said during his introduction at the Feb. 22 Republican candidate debate in Mesa, Arizona.
His candidacy this year, he said in his statement, “is about the campaign for liberty, which has taken a tremendous leap forward in this election and will continue to grow stronger in the future until we finally win.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Bykowicz in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
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