Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012 | 2 a.m.
After claiming the county and state conventions, the Nevada delegation’s Ron Paul Revolutionaries are determined to “plant the flag” for their cause at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. But this time, they’re going to have to do it without their usual props.
The problem isn’t just that Ron Paul doesn’t have the delegates, or that his name isn’t on the ballot. It’s also that the RNC has rules that seem crafted to stymie the characteristic spirit of Ron Paul supporters -- and anyone else that isn’t the presumptive nominee.
“They have a lockdown,” said Wayne Terhune, 61, a Paul supporter and chairman of the Nevada delegation. “There’s not a whole lot you can do.”
No banners. No signs. And no bullhorns to lead the 177 official Paul delegates (plus many more unofficial supporters) in an unsanctioned or ill-timed round of “President Paul, President Paul.”
Those rules are not sitting well with the delegation.
“I think it’s pretty crappy that you can’t bring the signs and wear the shirts and the buttons of your nominee of choice, particularly because Ron Paul is still in the race,” said Cynthia Kennedy, 59, a delegate and Paul supporter.
“We can show our opinion but we have to play nice,” said Lillian Babcock, 27, surmising the rules were “kind of ridiculous.”
“They would censor exactly what a convention should display,” complained Wiselet Rouzard, 25. “Everyone across the country is coming in to represent their candidate, and you get a good feel of what candidate is most supported by people wearing their shirts and by people waving their signs.”
Which is exactly what organizers don’t want.
Most of the Paul supporters in Nevada’s RNC delegation are in the awkward position of being passionately devoted to Paul, but for now, politically betrothed to Romney. They are bound to vote for Romney on the first ballot -- if they vote, that is. Some have said they may abstain “if there’s no respect given to us” as Paul supporters.
But beyond that, not only will none of them commit to supporting Romney in November, they won’t even commit to hold a Romney sign when they’re passed out at the convention. To them, it is about as attractive as a rock of kryptonite.
“I will have my hands full of other things, I’m sure,” Kurt Criss, 55, said, if anyone tries to hand him a Romney sign.
But with no supporting materials of their own, the Paul crew is having to reinvent how they make their signature splash.
“We’re respecting the rules, because that’s what Ron Paul people do,” Juanita Cox, 64, an alternate delegate, said carefully. “This movement is not about the man, Ron Paul, it’s about the principles and the rules.
“And the Constitution of course,” she hastily added.
“We have to take the same stance that Ron Paul takes,” said Pat Kerby, who added that delegation members would be able to “blow off steam” at non-RNC Paul rallies over the weekend. “Ron Paul is so confident that he is correct...that in the long term, liberty and protection for individual rights is the best.”
“Everyone’s going to know who we are when we start talking about the message,” Douglas Davila-Pestana, 26, said.
But at least a few delegates are still planning to push the rules as far as they will go.
“We’re pretty resourceful people,” said Kennedy, who has been in town since last weekend to work on the Republican Party platform. “I packed my magnetic car signs in my luggage and we’ve got ‘em on my rental car.”
And once in the stadium, the delegation’s full-throated former Rebels linebacker -- well-schooled in audibles -- has already guaranteed he will not be silenced.
“You can’t censor everything,” Rouzard said. “Especially my voice.”