Now is the time for Paul to pick up del­e­gates

Strat­egy is to con­vert non­bind­ing straw-poll, cau­cus re­sults his way RNC count puts Gin­grich ahead of San­to­rum

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN BY RALPH Z. HAL­LOW AND

Rep. Ron Paul’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign al­ways has banked on play­ing the cau­cus game to try to max­i­mize his sup­port where it counts — the del­e­gates who will at­tend the na­tional con­ven­tion this sum­mer in Tampa, Fla.

This week that strat­egy gets its first test in Iowa and Wy­oming, where ear­lier non­bind­ing straw polls be­gin to turn into those con­ven­tion del­e­gates. Mr. Paul is count­ing on his small cadre of ded­i­cated sup­port­ers to be the ones fight­ing to win those del­e­gate seats.

“The real win­now­ing will hap­pen Satur­day,” said Drew Ivers, Mr. Paul’s Iowa cam­paign chair­man, adding that the cam­paign is play­ing out the process by con­tact­ing all of the del­e­gates and ask­ing them to sup­port Mr. Paul.

Iowa held its precinct cau­cuses Jan. 3, and Rick San­to­rum won the pres­i­den­tial pref­er­ence straw poll there, while Mr. Paul came in third. But those re­sults aren’t bind­ing. The state’s ac­tual del­e­gates to the GOP’S na­tional con­ven­tion are cho­sen through a con­vo­luted process that be­gan with del­e­gates be­ing elected at the precincts. They then at­tend dis­trict and state con­ven­tions to choose na­tional del­e­gates, who aren’t bound to fol­low the re­sults of the Jan. 3 straw poll.

That same process al­ready is play­ing out in Wy­oming, where Mitt Rom­ney won last month’s cau­cuses but the real vot­ing is hap­pen­ing at county con­ven­tions this week. With some of those coun­ties al­ready re­port­ing, Mr. Rom­ney is pro­jected to have won five del­e­gates, Mr. Paul to have won one and Mr. San­to­rum and Newt Gin­grich to have none.

Mr. Paul has vowed all along that his sup­port­ers, be­ing com­mit­ted to his cause, would be more likely to turn out for the sub­se­quent con­ven­tions and there­fore be bet­ter rep­re­sented in the del­e­gates that cau­cus states send to Tampa. He’ll need all the help he can get be­cause he has failed to win any of the 23 pri­maries and cau­cuses that have been held so far and trails badly in del­e­gate pro­jec­tions.

In Washington over the past month, Mr. Paul held six ral­lies that his cam­paign said were at­tended by more than 7,000 peo­ple com­bined. But when time came for the GOP’S cau­cuses, he won just 12,594 votes.

That in­di­cates a core group of very ded­i­cated sup­port­ers but also un­der­scores the trou­ble he has had reach­ing out to vot­ers be­yond that core.

In Idaho, the sit­u­a­tion was even worse: He held seven ral­lies that his cam­paign said at­tracted more than 12,000 peo­ple, but he won only slightly more than 8,000 votes in the cau­cuses on Su­per Tues­day.

Sens­ing worry among his fol­low­ers, Mr. Paul sent an email Thurs­day say­ing his del­e­gate strat­egy is in­tact af­ter Su­per Tues­day.

“In fact, while I didn’t win any state’s straw polls, my team ex­pects me to win a plu­ral­ity of del­e­gates in at least three states, as well as out­right ma­jori­ties in two more of the states that have al­ready started their process,” he said.

In Iowa, con­vert­ing sup­port into votes is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult at the be­gin­ning of a po­lit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion like the one the cam­paign hopes to spark, Mr. Ivers said.

For­mer Sen. Rick San­to­rum may have won more pri­maries but the Re­pub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee’s cur­rent del­e­gate count shows for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich has more bound del­e­gates than the Penn­syl­va­nian in the race for the party’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

Front-run­ner Mitt Rom­ney has earned 339 del­e­gates to the Au­gust nom­i­nat­ing con­ven­tion in Tampa, Fla., or more than the rest of the field com­bined, ac­cord­ing to a chart the RNC sent Thurs­day to its 168 mem­bers, a copy of which was ob­tained by The Washington Times.

Mr. Gin­grich is sec­ond with 107 del­e­gates, top­ping Mr. San­to­rum’s 95 del­e­gates and the 22 del­e­gates pledged to Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

“The re­sults may change as there are many close Con­gres­sional Dis­trict re­sults,” the na­tional com­mit­tee says in a note in­tro­duc­ing the chart. “These num­bers re­flect the cur­rent re­sults of the con­gres­sional dis­tricts and the ac­tual re­sults may not be cer­ti­fied for up to two weeks.”

Win­ning the nom­i­na­tion will take 1,144 del­e­gates.

Press re­ports have put Mr. San­to­rum in sec­ond place based on pro­jec­tions about how del­e­gates will be al­lo­cated in some of the cau­cus states where vot­ers have cast their bal­lots, but where the ac­tual del­e­gates won’t be de­cided un­til later, at county, dis­trict and state con­ven­tions.

Del­e­gates have yet to be fully awarded in Iowa, Colorado, North Dakota, Min­nesota, Maine and Washington. Mr. San­to­rum won the first four of those con­tests, while Mr. Rom­ney won the other two.

Mr. San­to­rum and Mr. Gin­grich are bat­tling to be the con­ser­va­tive al­ter­na­tive to Mr. Rom­ney in the race, and Mr. San­to­rum says his vic­to­ries in seven pri­maries and cau­cuses give him a leg up.

There have been public words from the San­to­rum camp, plus pri­vate pres­sure from some in the “any­body-but-rom­ney” fac­tion of the party, call­ing for Mr. Gin­grich to drop out of the con­test so that con­ser­va­tives can co­a­lesce around Mr. San­to­rum.

For his part, Mr. Gin­grich has said he is the true con­ser­va­tive and has dis­missed calls for him to step aside. Most re­cently, his Su­per Tues­day night speech painted his home-state win in Ge­or­gia as fore­shad­ow­ing an­other come­back.

While Mr. Gin­grich has won just two pri­maries, Ge­or­gia and South Carolina both bind most of their del­e­gates to sup­port the pri­mary win­ner.

“A rev­o­lu­tion means new ac­tiv­ity. So you’ve got new peo­ple who are start­ing to wake up, get en­gaged in the po­lit­i­cal process, who up un­til now have not been en­gaged in the po­lit­i­cal process,” he said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Ron Paul, ad­dress­ing a crowd in North Dakota on Tues­day, is bank­ing on win­ning over del­e­gates in states where straw-poll and cau­cus re­sults are not bind­ing.

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