That doesn’t mean Paul’s going to steal the nomination from Romney in Tampa. But his delegates could shake things up right when the party’s supposed to unify behind a single candidate. They could start off by calling for a floor vote, and then jump up in blocs to nominate Paul, one state after another. He isn’t likely to actually get the nomination that way, but multiple states clamoring for him would embarrass the party and make things more difficult for Romney in the months before November.

To fend off that political nightmare, Romney may have to offer concessions to Paul. Perhaps give him the microphone and let him speak in Tampa. Or incorporate some of his ideas into party platforms that the GOP will hash out in Tampa.