Ron Paul And Supporters Keep Up Delegate Battle Against Mitt Romney

Despite his repeated public vows to campaign all the way to the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, Newt Gingrich bowed to the inevitable on Wednesday and exited the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

Ron Paul, however, is far from doing the same. Without any of Gingrich's proclamations, and despite near-universal acceptance of Mitt Romney as the presumptive Republican nominee, Paul and his supporters have quietly boosted his delegate count and kept alive slim hopes that he can win the GOP nomination from the convention floor.

Paul's strategy has focused on the state level, where his supporters have been able to use their knowledge of arcane party rules and procedures to increase the number of Paul delegates, particularly through control of state party conventions. On Wednesday the Washington Post tallied Paul's gains in various states:

At Massachusetts’ state convention less than half of Romney’s 27 chosen delegates won tickets to Tampa. Paul supporters were chosen instead. While all of the state’s delegates are committed to vote for Romney, the delegates get to decide on the party chairman, platform, and VP nominee. ...

Paul supporters are a majority in the Iowa GOP’s State Central Committee, and he’s set to claim a majority of the state’s delegates despite finishing third in the caucuses.

They dominated the caucuses in Louisiana, carrying four out of six congressional districts with a tie in a fifth. That means 74 percent of the state’s convention delegates will be Paul backers.

In Minnesota, Paul won 20 of 24 delegates allocated at congressional district conventions, and he’s expected to take more at the statewide convention.

But despite the gains, Paul still faces the sticky issue of his massive deficit in the delegate count, where he currently trails Romney 847-80 according to the Associated Press. While Paul can be nominated from the floor in Tampa by a plurality of five state delegations, the most likely outcome of his continued push seems to be a major speaking slot or greater influence over the party platform.

Paul seemed to acknowledge that reality in comments to KNX 1070 radio in Los Angeles, Calif. Calling his relationship with Romney "friendly," Paul made no mention of sparking a nomination fight in August.

"We’re going through the delegate process, so we’re going to have a lot more than 80, but obviously [Romney]’s well ahead. We’re very much involved in changing the Republican party to become a party of a little less government," he said.