Could Ron Paul's delegates nominate him for VP at the GOP convention?

In which HuffPo once again demonstrates its Jedi mastery of SEO by cooking up far-fetched link bait about the pol with the most passionate fan base on the Internet. Which reminds me, look for my eight-part series coming soon to HA, “Could Ron Paul win the presidency via a national write-in vote?”

The bad news? There appears to be a very, very, very, very, very, very slim chance that this might happen, resulting in an unholy clusterfark on the floor. The good news? For the first time ever, the convention might be interesting this year.

Republican officials are still waking up to the fact that Paul loyalists — who control the majority of delegates in Maine, Minnesota and Iowa, and have sizable contingents in a number of other states — could very likely enter Paul’s name into nomination for vice president. This would force a roll call vote where each delegate of each state is polled on the floor of the convention…

Not only would such a floor fight step all over the message of party unity and strength that the Romney campaign hopes to drive through the convention, it would also open the door for alternatives to Romney’s choice to gain momentum and further drive the process off the rails.

For example, if Romney chose Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) as his vice presidential pick, but the Paul forces leveraged their impressive foothold in several states to nominate Paul from the floor, then someone like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) could emerge as the preferred pick for many delegates as the convention goes into a roll call vote. And Rubio’s name could be entered into nomination, in addition to Paul’s, if a plurality of five states voted to nominate him.

Follow the link for background on how the relevant rule here came to be. Romney’s already clinched the nomination, of course, but the VP nomination is technically an open contest, and since Paul’s fans now represent a majority of delegates in four states (Nevada, Minnesota, Iowa, and Maine), all they need to do is find a plurality in one other state that’s willing to vote for him over Romney’s VP pick and they can force a floor vote. A footnote to all this: The RNC can change the rule before the convention to require a majority of delegates in five states to nominate someone, which would make things much harder for the Paul fans. But if they do that, they’re going to make an already contentious relationship even more contentious, which could mean floor chaos or Paul voters staying home in even greater numbers than the RNC expects.

If only there was some way to appease them at the convention. Over to you, Robert Costa:

[O]ne surprising name was added to the [VP] mix by a couple of Romney advisers: Senator Rand Paul. Inside Romney world, the Kentucky freshman’s stock is rising. He’s certainly not a leading veep contender — he has not been asked for paperwork — but he is a valued ally. Within weeks, Paul will hit the trail for Romney. Rallies and other public events are in the works.

Paul is also slated, I’m told, to speak at the Republican National Convention. “We speak to them and are going to be helping them more as we go forward,” says one aide close to Paul. “Rand will do some surrogate work for him soon.”

So the convention will be a coronation of sorts for Rand as well as for Mitt, as Paul fils becomes an official National Figure and the Paul movement finally gains some mainstream recognition by the GOP. No one in Ron Paul’s campaign will want to jeopardize that with a floor stunt by his delegates, but does Team Paul have enough sway over their base that they can get their supporters to lie low for Rand’s benefit? Remember, some Paul fans are irritated at him for endorsing Romney; they’re bound to be more irritated if, as Costa claims, he hits the trail for Mitt. If you’re a true believer who’s convinced that Rand will betray the movement by getting too chummy with Beltway Republicans, why would you pass on a chance to nominate Ron for VP as his last shot at political glory before retiring? Or am I just trying to talk myself into believing this is kinda sorta plausible because it’d be a bottomless traffic goldmine?

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