"This is a really weird game, and you’ll find that most people will not want to play this."
Fuck that asshole, we have a big-government Republican establishment party to run here!
Mitt Romney loyalists, seeking a show of strength and solidarity at next week's GOP convention, struggled Friday to placate restless Ron Paul supporters while also weakening the powers of such insurgent candidates in future Republican primaries.
Pre-convention haggling annoyed devoted backers of Paul, the 77-year-old Texas congressman who was among Romney's primary challengers. One Republican National Convention panel voted to replace 10 delegates from Maine who are supportive of Paul, deciding that they came to Tampa through a flawed state selection process. A second pro-Romney committee moved to adopt a rule narrowing the routes for delegates to national conventions in 2016 and beyond.
"It sends the message that when the establishment doesn't get the outcome they want they will use the process to change it," said Mike Rothfeld of Virginia, who tried in vain to block the ouster of Maine's delegates partial to Paul. "It will not be good for the party. It will not be good for Mitt Romney."
The skirmishes with Paul supporters highlight lingering tensions between wings of the party ahead of a convention geared around unity. In a peace offering, Romney's campaign announced plans to air a video tribute to the libertarian-leaning Paul during the convention.
The move had immediate repercussions. Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a delegate himself, said he would skip the convention because of the discord. Another remaining delegate, former state lawmaker Stavros Mendros, predicted it would hamper the GOP's bid to snatch an electoral vote in Maine given its process of awarding those based on geographic vote totals.
"It's going to be a disaster back home," Mendros said. "People are going to be out for blood."
In an adjoining ballroom, allies of Romney worked to make it harder for insurgent presidential candidates such as Paul to have a big voice in future nominating conventions. GOP rule-makers voted to tie the selection of convention delegates to the results of each state's Republican primary. Supporters of the rule change said primary voters expect national convention delegates to be loyal to the primary winner.