GOP defends convention process |

GOP defends convention process

Associated Press Writer

Nevada Republican Party leaders sought Monday to defend the shutdown of their weekend state convention that angered Ron Paul supporters and left the party without a full slate of delegates to their national convention in September.

Zach Moyle, the state party’s executive director, also said the convention will resume as soon as possible – and under party rules may have to be held in Reno because that’s where it opened on Saturday.

Moyle also said Ron Paul backers upset by the recess – including some who have called in threats to state GOP headquarters – will get fair treatment when the state convention resumes and won’t be disenfranchised.

Moyle also said that the state Republican Party already has “reached out to Paul every step of the way,” inviting him to speak at the Reno convention. He said no other Republican party in other states did that.

Jeff Greenspan, regional coordinator for the Paul campaign, said supporters of the Texas congressman will turn out in force for the rest of the convention, adding, “If they’re anticipating people not showing up, I think they’re going to be mistaken.”

Greenspan also said the Paul supporters were so concerned that party leaders would reconvene the convention on short notice that 300 of them showed up early Sunday morning at the Reno hotel-casino where the event was held the day before.

Greenspan added that the big concern is that the 31-member national convention delegation not be picked in secret, adding, “It’s about who the delegates on the (convention) floor determine is the right team. To suggest that it be any other way is irregular, to say it nicely.”

State Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, who chaired the convention on Saturday, said it would have taken several hours more to complete work on the national convention delegation, and “we were on overtime on our contract for our convention space.”

As for some of the harsh complaints from Paul supporters, Beers said, “I imagine Dr. Paul is as embarrassed by some of his followers’ statements as I am.”

Beers was booed loudly as he called for the convention recess. The shutdown ended a long day that pitted outnumbered supporters of presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain against well-organized Paul supporters, who were able to get a rule change positioning them for more national convention delegate slots than expected.

State GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden has said the rules change wasn’t anticipated. She denied any anti-Paul bias, saying expected slates of national delegates were prepared through a fair and open process by the convention’s nominations committee and the party thought the convention would accept them.

As the convention opened on Saturday, delegates cheered as former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney urged support for McCain – but later in the day Paul got even louder applause as he delivered his message of individual freedom and fiscal responsibility.

Romney, who trounced all other Republican contenders by getting 52 percent in Nevada’s precinct straw polls, said his job now is to make sure McCain wins the presidency. In the January straw polling, McCain and Paul split a quarter of the votes.