Rand Paul bears few of the scars of decades of ideological battle earned by his father. He enjoys a closer relationship with the GOP establishment in the Senate and elsewhere; according to some reports, he is already plotting a presidential candidacy of his own, if not in 2016 then in 2020. If anyone could bring anti-interventionist foreign policy into the mainstream of the GOP, it’s Rand.
This suggests a simple answer to what Ron Paul wants: He is ready, like Moses, to withdraw from the battleground having never entered the Promised Land, entrusting that task to his Joshua, his son. And whatever the doctor can do to make his son an accepted voice for a respected point of view on foreign policy—whether it’s securing a convention speech, a platform concession, or just a place at the table in hypothetical Romney administration deliberations—he will cash his last gold coins to make it happen.
A reader's take:
I’ve been trying to work out what Ron Paul is up to. A lot of the delegates he’s acquiring are technically pledged delegates (for instance, the Nevada delegates are mostly obliged to vote for Romney). Even in some primary states, there’s still a state convention that chooses the delegates – though they are then obliged to vote for the candidate that won the primary.
So why should he care who the delegates are?
One suggestion that has been going around is the platform. But the platform doesn’t matter; it doesn’t bind the candidate, and it certainly doesn’t bind candidates for the House or Senate. When was the last time you ever heard any elected official called to account for not abiding by the party’s platform?
Pledged delegates, however, are only bound to their candidate in the vote for the presidential nominee in the first ballot. So there are two possibilities I can see. First, he thinks he can stop Romney winning on the first ballot. Suspended campaigns still exist, and their pledged delegates are still pledged until released by the candidate, so all the Santorum delegates and the few Gingrich delegates can’t vote for Romney. Romney will win lots of delegates when he wins the remaining winner-take-all primaries, so I doubt that Paul can actually prevent a Romney win on the first ballot.
Second, he wants to control the vice-presidential nomination. This, I think, he might actually pull off. Under normal circumstances the delegates pledged to the presidential nominee are personally loyal enough to vote for the VP of his choice. But if there are a lot of Romney delegates who are actually Paul supporters, then Paul can pick the VP. He might pick himself, but I doubt it; he has to expect Romney to lose, and he doesn’t really support him that much – but there are other libertarians (no, not Rand) that he could choose. If Romney finds that he has to choose a VP acceptable to Paul to avoid a nasty floor-fight over the nomination, then he probably does rather than face the floor fight. That certainly affects the veepstakes calculations.
Finally, one thing the Paul delegates will definitely do: turn up to all the sessions on organisation and electing committees and start rewriting the rules of the party to make it easier for them to choose the nominee next time. No-one else will care; no-one else will turn up; the Paulites will be about to out-vote everyone else, just as they have at district and state conventions.