Lynne Sladky / AP
Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012 | 2 a.m.
TAMPA, Fla. — As Ron Paul’s supporters doggedly pursued every last, pie-in-the-sky option for putting their candidate up for nomination at the Republican National Convention, they repeated one mantra: We’re here to follow the rules.
Indeed, they had become masters of the rules, learning them in detail and using them to their advantage at every turn.
But in the end, after they had exhausted all of their options, the Paul supporters broke the rules.
When it came time for Nevada’s delegation chairman, Wayne Terhune, to announce the Silver State’s votes, he ignored the binding results of the presidential caucuses, which guaranteed Romney 20 delegate votes and Paul eight delegate votes.
Instead, Terhune reported a new tally.
“In the spirit of freedom that inspired the founding of our country and in honor of the liberty that made the United States the greatest country on earth, we proudly cast 17 votes for Congressman Ron Paul, five abstentions and five for Romney,” he said. (One less vote was a result of one of the delegates staying home due to an illness in the family.)
Terhune’s moment at the microphone was the final word in a frenzied, all-out effort to put Paul’s name up for nomination.
The day began with high hopes for Nevada’s Paul delegation. Terhune had cobbled together signatures from six states supporting his effort to put Paul’s name up for nomination.
Just before the convention gaveled open, Paul wandered onto the floor to greet his supporters from Nevada, Iowa and elsewhere. He thanked those who supported him but remained non-committal when asked if he supported their effort to nominate him.
“I have no idea what they’re doing,” Paul said.
Still, his presence only served to further motivate his troops.
Even with most of the signatures in hand, Terhune had his work cut out for him. First, he had to physically deliver the signatures to the convention secretary before the body adopted new rules requiring eight states to support a nomination instead of just five.
Once at the convention, the secretary couldn’t be located. Worse, at least one bus containing delegates Terhune still needed couldn’t get to the convention center. It circled a couple of times, bogged down in traffic and unable to get through the security perimeter.
Terhune spent an anxious half-hour pacing the hallway with a small gaggle of Paul supporters who knew the plan in advance.
Then, a Paul delegate from Minnesota had enough of the waiting game. Gary Heyer, a yoga instructor from Chaska, Minn., grabbed a handful of other Paul delegates and tried to storm the stage. Terhune abandoned that effort, worried they’d be thrown out of the convention.
Heyer soon relented when his cohorts left him and peacefully walked to the side when asked to do so by convention officials.
Eventually, Terhune managed to hand petitions from six states to the secretary.
“It’s a very slim window … but we’re in the game,” Terhune said right after turning in the petitions.
But the bigger challenge lay ahead. Earlier in the week, the Romney campaign had persuaded the rules committee to pass an eight-state requirement for nominating. Paul’s forces had hoped to challenge that on the convention floor.
They were never given an opportunity to do that.
Convention Chairman John Boehner called for a vote on the rules with no discussion. Romney, with an overwhelming majority of the delegates, easily won the vote.
That ended the 2012 Paul revolution.
“There was no debate,” Terhune said. “My mic was dead. We used the phone to call and nobody answered.”
Chants from the floor of, “Point of order,” were ignored.
So, in one last act of defiance, Nevada’s delegation decided to “vote their conscience” instead of respect the binding rule.
“If the Republican Party does not have enough respect for its own process to follow the rules, then there’s no reason I should follow the rules,” Paul delegate Robert Tyree of Henderson said.
The decision to jettison the binding rule infuriated Nevada’s Romney supporters, who had patiently played along while the Paul supporters worked their effort under the rules.
“They just hurt their movement in Nevada for a very long time,” Washoe County GOP Chairman Dave Buell said. “You can’t sit there and scream about the rules and then break the rules.”
James Smack, the incoming Republican national committeeman and former Paul supporter, was incensed.
"We spent the last four years working to get this party to follow the rules and this just slaps it in the face," he said.
In fact, had Terhune correctly announced Nevada’s vote, the Silver State could have had the distinction of being the state to put Romney over the top in the delegate count, Buell said.
Instead, New Jersey basked in the fireworks on the Jumbotron screen as the state to deliver the nomination to Romney.