Does Paul's Iowa delegate sweep indicate brighter days ahead for libertarians?

  • COLLEGE PARK, MD - MARCH 28: Supporters of Republican Presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) cheer as he speaks during a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland on March 28, 2012 in College Park, Maryland. Paul is trailing his opponents in what has become a race for delegates until the Republican National Convention. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images) Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

    (CBS News) Ron Paul backers on Saturday notched yet another state delegate win in Iowa, proving - despite their hero's concession that he will not be the Republican presidential nominee - they're not going anywhere.

    After what the Des Moines Register described as a "two-day tug-of-war marked by bouts of angry shouting," Paul supporters walked away with 23 of 28 total delegates to send to August's Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

    All are unbound, but senior Paul adviser Doug Wead told CBS News that their delegates will be respectful of Mitt Romney as the party's nominee, and won't "cause trouble or stir anything up."

    Wead pointed out that while official numbers coming out of the Iowa state convention are new, the Texas Congressman's delegate win there was established in January on the night of the Iowa caucus: "You read all these stories saying we're flooding state conventions or stealing delegates that belong to Romney, and it's just absurd," he said. "You can't flood a convention; these delegates were elected to attend."

    While Paul came in a distant third in Iowa's January caucus behind Rick Santorum and Romney, his famously loyal supporters led a concerted effort there and in many other states to stick around their precincts until voting ended, when the delegates would be selected.

    "The movement is energized," Wead said of Paul backers, who generally share their leader's libertarian views. "Dr. Paul's message is resonating with more and more people all the time - it's why they're willing to go sit around at these conventions all day and out-stay the establishment."

    That energy, Wead said, could transfer to Paul's son Rand, the Republican Senator from Kentucky. And if Rand decides to follow in his father's footsteps and run for president in 2016 (as Wead believes he will), "he's in a much better place to do it because of Dr. Paul's campaign this time around," he said.

    "How Romney won the nomination this year was having people in his corner who could actually make decisions and impact the election," Wead said. "John McCain won the nomination in 2008, but Mitt Romney had a whole lot of people who liked him, and some of those people were put on the rules committee."

    Citing A.J. Spiker, former vice chair of Paul's Iowa campaign who now chairs the Iowa GOP, Wead said the tide's now turning in the Paul clan's direction.

    "Put it this way," he said. "It's not always the coaching, it's the recruitment. And going forward, Paul supporters are going to be sitting on committees. They're going to be the ones making decisions. This shift is organic; we're not leading the charge, we're just riding the wave."

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    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

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