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Mr. Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, said Thursday at CPAC that his father’s supporters know how to work the system for maximum benefit.

“I think they learned about it in 2008, and I think a lot of them show up and a lot of them stay at the caucus until the bitter end to try and get appointed as delegates,” he said.

The senator said the hunt for delegates was part of the reason his father was skipping CPAC, where he has won the straw poll two years in a row. The candidate is campaigning in Maine, which is holding caucuses all week and which will announce results Saturday.

The new rules also punish states that held their contests too early, such as Florida, which will lose half its delegates to the national convention.

According to Mr. Blackwell, Florida’s early primary date means it also might be allowed to award its delegates in a winner-take-all fashion, as the state party had called for and the method that is reflected in national delegate-race counts showing Mr. Romney in the lead.

Mr. Blackwell said he, for one, would support a move to allocate those delegates proportionally, which would eat into Mr. Romney’s current lead and would boost Mr. Gingrich.

“Unless Mitt Romney has a big majority, in which case as the presumptive nominee he can get what he wants out of the preliminary activities at the convention, then the Florida delegation of 50 will be, according to the rules, allocated some way proportionately,” Mr. Blackwell said.