RENO, Nev. — Outmaneuvered by raucous Ron Paul supporters, Nevada Republican Party leaders abruptly shut down their state convention and now must resume the event to complete a list of 31 delegates to the GOP national convention.
Outnumbered supporters of expected Republican presidential nominee John McCain faced off Saturday against well-organized Paul supporters. A large share of the more than 1,300 state convention delegates enabled Paul supporters to get a rule change positioning them for more national convention delegate slots than expected.
"I've seen factions walk out. I've never seen a party walk out," said Jeff Greenspan, regional coordinator for the Paul campaign.
Delegates cheered earlier in the day as former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney urged support for McCain. Later, though, Paul got even louder applause as he delivered his message of individual freedom and fiscal responsibility.
State Sen. Bob Beers, the convention chairman, was booed loudly as he called for a recess Saturday evening. He said that the party's rental contract for a big meeting room at a Reno hotel-casino had expired and there was too much work left to complete.
State GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden 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.