(CBS News) TAMPA, Fla. - Capping a nominating process that began in January, delegates at the Republican National Convention took the next step Tuesday evening in choosing Mitt Romney as their presidential nominee.
As a representative from each state took to the microphone - in alphabetical order - they announced the number of delegates to vote in favor of Romney. The representative also noted the number of delegates for Republican opponent Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex. (Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich released their delegates to Romney so their delegates were not announced). Delegates from New Jersey officially pushed Romney over the top.
Even though the party is going through the roll call process to nominate Romney and his chosen running-mate Paul Ryan, they won't officially be the party's nominees until Thursday.
A Romney campaign official explained that they're holding off on officially nominating the duo in order to take advantage of a campaign fundraising loophole and postpone spending their general election funds until as late as possible. The moment they are nominated, they are officially running in the general election in the eyes of the Federal Election Commission and that's when they begin to dip into his campaign's deep pockets - estimated to be upwards of $150 million - for the final stretch.
Controversy erupted during the adoption of party rules Tuesday. Supporters of Paul objected and caused a commotion over a rules change and the rejection of a motion to seat Maine's delegates. Half of the state's delegates, which unanimously backed Paul, were stripped of their seats and replaced with Romney supporters.
Chants of "let them sit" briefly erupted on the floor, but the presiding officers, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, ignored the protest and continued with proceedings. After Paul backers lost the voice vote over the Maine delegates and a rule change, applause erupted from the other delegates.
"I think the integrity of the process was destroyed. Opposition was blatantly ignored," Maine delegate Ashley Ryan told CBSNews.com. The Maine delegates backing Paul walked out of the convention floor and some are boycotting the rest of the convention.
Despite the displeasure among the Paul backers, that is likely to be the only contentious point during the convention, which continues into the night and through Thursday with speakers framing a tightly-scripted message highlighting Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan. Ann Romney speaks tonight at 10 p.m. ET "about love," a senior Romney campaign official said, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will deliver the keynote and is expected to energize the crowd.
Ryan delivers his acceptance speech Wednesday night and Romney accepts his nomination Thursday evening.