To a roaring applause from a sea of delegates at the Republican National Convention here in Florida, Mitt Romney officially secured his place as the challenger to President Barack Obama in the race for the White House in November. He stitched up a total of 2,061 delegate voters, significantly higher than the 1,144 needed to win the nomination.
Not that it was without controversy. By 5pm convention attendees, who had converged in Tampa from all 50 states of the U.S., wound up speech-making to conduct a roll-call of the delegates won by each presidential nominee candidate per state.
While the Governors of most states announced unanimous delegate support for Mr. Romney there was a distinct sense of unease about states such as Texas, Iowa, Minnesota and Maine, where the one man who might have spoiled Mr. Romney’s moment in the sun enjoys wide backing – Texan Congressman and strongman of the U.S.’ libertarian tradition Ron Paul.
Matters took a confrontational turn when Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sought to press through some rule changes about delegate credentialing via voice vote.
Disputing the margin of the vote, loud boos and a virtual shouting match erupted across of the floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the venue of the convention, led by the supporters of Mr. Paul. Mr. Paul’s campaign was has thus far managed to appeal to the “somewhat arcane rules of delegate allocation to win a majority of four states' delegations.” The leaders on the podium only succeeded in restoring calm after much gavel-banging.
The Hindu caught up with some members of the Texas delegation on the scene. Bruce Bond, an engineer and alternative delegate from Fort Bend County near Houston, said that members of his state delegation were dismayed that “Boehner and Priebus were trying to force things onto us top-down.”
He added that while Texas Republicans who cherished the idea of individual liberty may “go slow” in their short-term campaigning efforts for Mr. Romney after Tuesday’s events, “I’m not sure how this will affect what they do in November.”
While the Team Romney may consider the Paul factor a minor blip in an otherwise overwhelmingly positive note of support for their candidate, the dissenters may well deny him their vote unless he is able to truly win over their hearts and minds in the 68 days.