- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. — The attorney for Rep. Ron Paul’s Oklahoma delegates to the Republican National Convention on Monday threatened the withholding of votes for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Oklahoma’s GOP chairman says.

The Paul attorney told the RNC’s Committee on Contests that unless it seated the Paul delegates instead of those elected by the Oklahoma GOP, Paul supporters across the country would withhold their votes from Mr. Romney.

“That this lawyer turned a rules challenge into political blackmail was thuggish and certainly not the way to restore the first principles of this republic, which is the professed aim of the Ron Paul revolution,” Republican National Convention Vice Chairman Solomon Yue told The Washington Times.

Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell revealed the threat during a live webcast by The Times that featured RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Mr. Pinnell as guests.

Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is slated to be formally named as the GOP’s presidential nominee here next week.

The threat, if carried out, would have little effect on the outcome of the presidential election when it comes to the red state of Oklahoma, but could matter significantly in swing states like Colorado and New Hampshire, which have concentrations of so-called “Paulites.”

Mr. Priebus said he welcomed Mr. Paul’s supporters and tea party activists as allies of conservatism, which he said the GOP and Mr. Romney represent.

The Republican Platform Committee also met here on Monday to debate and put the finishing touches on the governing document that will go before the nearly 5,000 convention delegates and alternates when they assemble here next week to nominate Mr. Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Like other things in politics, the Republican Party’s national platform is viewed by some in the party as crucial and by others as largely meaningless.

“Historically, the only time you hear much about a platform proposal is when there is disunity in the ranks about its content,” said former Florida GOP chairman Al Cardenas, who has had years of experience with the writing of previous national platforms. Having escaped from communist Cuba some years ago, he became a successful American businessman and political activist and is now chairman of the American Conservative Union.

RNC Vice Chairman James Bopp Jr., who with Mr. Yue co-founded the RNC’s Conservative Caucus, said the platform’s reputation and functionality are improving.

“As Republicans become more conservative and ideological, the importance of the platform grows,” said Mr. Bopp, who practices constitutional law. “In addition, the tea party has heightened the important of the platform.”

For many years, the party worked behind the scenes to remove what it regarded as controversial items, such as the anti-abortion plank. The plank stuck nonetheless.

“Frankly, the GOP platform has been fairly conservative for a while, especially in 2008 when you may have least expected it,” said Mr. Cardenas.

“Folks in the McCain presidential effort did not want an argument with conservatives at the convention,” he said, referring to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the party’s 2008 presidential nominee.

Mr. Priebus said the platform should be the foundation of the party, laying out its conservative philosophy and principles that should guide the policy decisions of GOP officeholders, from president to city council member.

“When a Republican officeholder proposes something that doesn’t comport the platform, I reread that part of the document and tell the Republican in question why his proposal isn’t consistent with the platform,” said Mr. Priebus.