In this file photo, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul speaks… (Ben Margot / AP File Photo )
One day after announcing that he would no longer campaign in states that have yet to hold primaries, officials with Ron Paul’s campaign clarified Tuesday that the Texas congressman was not suspending his presidential bid.
While Paul recognizes that Mitt Romney is the likely GOP nominee, he is unlikely to endorse his party’s standard-bearer and would continue to try to rack up delegates to have sway at the party convention in Florida in August, according to Jesse Benton, Paul’s national campaign chairman.
“We recognize Gov. Romney has what is likely to be an insurmountable delegate lead,” he said. “We acknowledge we’re very, very unlikely to be able to block that nomination. However we believe we still have very, very strong things we can accomplish by continuing this campaign, and Dr. Paul is continuing the campaign. Dr. Paul is not suspending his campaign and he is not dropping out of the race.”
Paul has more than 100 delegates who are committed to him, as well as more than 200 who are bound to vote for Romney at the convention but who back Paul, Benton said. These figures do not include alternates. A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to clinch the nomination.
Paul has not won a single state in the primaries and caucuses that have taken place to date, but his supporters have been flooding state party conventions, amassing delegates majorities in Nevada and Maine. Campaign officials believe they can do well in other states, including Washington, Missouri, Louisiana and Iowa. Paul will personally continue to seek delegates at state party conventions, including this Friday in Minnesota and Texas in June.
Benton said they have been in touch with the Romney campaign to discuss the inclusion of issues dear to Paul and his supporters – monetary policy, the federal reserve, Internet freedom and indefinite detentions – into the national party platform. They also want to influence party rules so they do not favor members of the establishment, Benton said. No discussions have occurred about giving Paul a speaking role at the convention in August in Tampa.
The degree to which the party and Romney embrace such issues and how they treat Paul’s supporters will determine whether those supporters will back the presumptive GOP nominee in November or stay home, Benton said.
Paul is not likely to formally endorse Romney, he said.
“I would never say never. I do not believe that is likely but we don’t believe in absolutes,” Benton said. “Dr. Paul is willing to listen, willing to have a conversation and willing to enter anything with an open mind.”
Paul’s supporters, a fiercely loyal bunch, have caused controversy at some party gatherings, most recently over the weekend when they booed Romney’s son Josh off the stage in Arizona over the weekend. Benton repeatedly called on Paul’s supporters to act with “civility” and “decorum,” saying that they are unfairly scrutinized.
“One thing we learned, relearned this past weekend – our supporters are going to get an excessive amount of blame for problems that arise in heated moments at conventions. State conventions in particular are known for heated moments. Our supporters are going to get much more than what they deserve when it comes to blame for any problems,” he said.