"If I were Romney, I'd prepare for the worst"

“Certainly we’re not trying to start a fight or go embarrass folks at the convention,” Paul’s former Iowa state director Joel Kurtinitis said. “We get a bad rap as rabble-rousers. That’s not what we’re about. We’re trying to take our party back.”

The Romney team helped the Paul campaign secure the University of South Florida’s 10,400-seat Sun Dome arena in Tampa for a rally before the convention begins, perhaps fearing that Paul supporters might be too vocal at the convention itself without such an outlet.

“Gov. Romney has a lot of respect for Dr. Paul and the energy his supporters bring to the process,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “We look forward to broad participation at the Tampa convention and know the Paul enthusiasts will have their voices heard.”

Giving Paul’s fans some room could be a wise strategic move for Romney, O’Connell said.

“Romney has to take a very Machiavellian approach,” he explained. “He wants to keep his friends – his supporters – close, and his potential enemies – Paul supporters – even closer.”