You may think that in any week where Mitt Romney won the Republican nomination for president, that he would be considered a winner of the week in this column. However, that is not the case this time around.
First, there was little political clout to be gained from the Massachusetts governor winning his party’s nod; the result was nearly inevitable, as nearly all of his primary opponents had long since dropped from the race. In fact, the way the RNC chose to eliminate his last standing opponent, Ron Paul, may have cost Romney dearly, putting him solidly into the loser’s column this week.
The Paul campaign had amassed a couple hundred delegates to the convention by having their electors selected at the state and local level to represent the party affiliates at the national convention. The convention rules stated that any candidate who won a plurality of delegates in five or more states would be placed into voting to determine the party’s nominee. Ron Paul barely made that threshold, but the national party apparatus quickly amended that requirement to eight states. Then, Congressman Paul’s entourage was stripped of half of its voting power. With Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, refusing to attend the convention over the refusal to seat delegates, the Pine Tree State’s 34 votes, 14 of which were due to be cast for Romney and 20 for Paul, were amended to 24 votes, ten of those for the Texas Congressman. This caused a large walkout from the convention by many of Paul’s supporters, feeling they had been disenfranchised. All in all, around 100 electoral votes were cast for Ron Paul, and over 330 delegates did not cast a vote out of over 2,200 delegates.
With Ron Paul officially eliminated from Republican consideration, and a significant number of his delegates walking out, media was quick to ask the exiting politicos who they would now be supporting in the general election. A significant number of them announced that they were switching their allegiance to Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee. The answer was so prevalent that it caused Neil Cavuto to unexpectedly bring Gary Johnson into the convention and onto his show, as well as put the former New Mexico governor on CNBC, FoxNews, and in U.S. News and Salon. For a candidate running on a shoestring budget, that is hundreds of thousands of dollars in free advertising. For that reason, Gary Johnson is my political winner of the week. He got exactly what he needed – a firm rejection of Paul by the RNC, followed by a rebound to the Johnson campaign by delegates and media.
There is also one other political loser for the week, another convention attendee, although not a full-time politician. Just because you can talk to an empty chair, Clint, doesn’t mean you should talk to an empty chair. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch any Clint Eastwood westerns again without picturing him in a shootout against an empty chair on a dusty street.