- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ron Paul’s campaign conceded Tuesday he won’t win enough delegates to be Republicans’ presidential nominee, but says he will continue to try to win supporters to influence the GOP’s platform and rules at the August convention.

And top Paul strategist Jesse Benton also told reporters that the Texas congressman is not likely to endorse presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, though he also won’t back any third-party candidates, either.

The details emerged a day after Mr. Paul sent an email to supporters telling them he is staying in the race, but ramping down his push for votes in the 11 states yet to hold primaries. Instead, he plans to pursue a strategy that will focus on getting more of his supporters to become delegates to the GOP convention.

“We acknowledge that we’re very, very unlikely to be able to block that nomination. However, we believe we still have very strong things we can accomplish by continuing this campaign,” Mr. Benton told reporters. “Dr. Paul is not suspending his campaign, and he is not dropping out of the race.”

He said that by the Paul campaign’s own count, Mr. Romney is fewer than 200 bound delegates shy of the 1,144 needed to win the nomination, and that it doesn’t make financial sense to try to compete in the 11 states still to vote, including Texas and California.

Mr. Romney has been campaigning as the presumptive nominee for about a month.

Mr. Benton said it was unlikely Mr. Paul would ever endorse Mr. Romney, though he flatly ruled out the prospect of backing Gary E. Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico who is the Libertarian Party’s nominee and who has said he will actively try to court Paul supporters.

Mr. Benton said whether Paul supporters actually vote for Mr. Romney in November will be up to the former Massachusetts governor and the kinds of stances he takes going forward.

“I think that is still up for grabs. I think a lot of that is going to be determined by what plays out in the next several months,” he said.

Mr. Johnson told The Washington Times he will go after Mr. Paul’s supporters, saying it should be a natural fit for them since he supports many of the same limited-government principles as Mr. Paul. But he said he doesn’t mind that Mr. Paul isn’t going to endorse him.

“That doesn’t surprise me. He did ask me for my endorsement in 2008. I readily gave him that endorsement, and when I dropped out of the Republican Party [in December], I asked everyone who was going to vote for me to vote for Ron Paul, but I don’t expect him to do the same,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Paul winds down his search for votes having not won the popular vote in any state, though he did end up with the most pledged delegates in Maine, thanks to his delegate-maximizing strategy.

That strategy also has helped his supporters win slots to the convention even when they are bound to vote for Mr. Romney in the nominating process. That means that while they cannot boost Mr. Paul for president, they can play a role in supporting his goals as the GOP writes its 2012 platform and its rules for the next four years.

Mr. Benton said they have more than 100 delegates bound to vote for Mr. Paul, and at least an additional 200 delegates who are pledged to vote for Mr. Romney but who are actually Paul supporters and can back his priorities.

“We’re going to be advancing through the platform process, and then at the convention, platform ideas on Fed transparency, Fed accountability, monetary policy reform, prohibitions on indefinite detention and a plank on Internet freedom,” he said.

He pledged that Paul supporters would show “decorum and respect” at the national convention, saying they expect to be under scrutiny.

“We’re going to emphasize that our people really need to emphasize respect and civility. They’re going to be under a microscope,” he said.

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