TAMPA, Fla. — Late on the final day of the Republican National Convention, a group of 100 delegates pledged to Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and disgruntled tea party activists, huddled together for a hastily organized and at times barely audible press conference to protest — one last time – their treatment by the GOP.
Just hours before Mitt Romney was scheduled to accept the presidential nomination, the delegates held big yellow signs saying “grassroots” while reporters struggled to take it all in. The group was angry about new RNC rules “that diminish the importance of grassroots Republicans” and charge that a “legitimately filed minority report was ignored and was not presented to the body for consideration.”
Many of them also wanted additional “duly elected” Paul delegates seated and the Texas congressman’s name placed in nomination.
“We were railroaded,” asserted Mark Anthony Jones, a delegate from Missouri. “This is the shot heard ’round the world.”
But Jones said he has been a Republican for years and he isn’t going to change. “We are absolutely not leaving this party!” he exclaimed. “This is my party!”
The protesters alleged that GOP leaders changed the rules to consolidate power and prevent future bottom-up candidacies like Paul’s from gaining momentum. Defenders of the new rules claim it will prevent small but super-organized cliques inside the party from exerting influence beyond their numbers.
“We are enthusiastic about removing Barack Obama from office,” said a statement issued at the press conference, “but we are concerned that the actions of some in the Party leadership are jeopardizing our opportunity to get this done.”
A speaker at the press event said bluntly that the rule changes “will cause Mitt Romney to lose the election.” Several called for mediators to come in and restore the old rules.
Some Republicans grumbled as they walked by the Paul scrum to enter the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the convention’s finale.
“It’s time to move on,” one woman said as she hustled past.
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