Acknowledging that Mitt Romney is in a strong position to win the Republican nomination, Ron Paul campaign Chair Jesse Benton said Tuesday that Paul's famously loyal and enthusiastic fan base will be represented at the Tampa convention by the hundreds, with "a very, very strong message that we're here," but in a way that's "respectful."
"We're going to respectfully show that our people are here and we're the way to the future, and we're here to work with people, we're here to play ball, and we believe in very, very specific things," Benton said in a conference call with reporters. "And we're going to continue to fight for ideas. And moving forward, we're going to continue to become an even stronger voice in the party." At the convention, he said, "We're emphasizing decorum."
Another goal, he said, is to arrive in Tampa with as many delegates as possible to influence the debate and to "vote on party rules and allow us to shape the process for future liberty candidates." As National Journal/CBS News reported last week, the Texas congressman's campaign is paving the way for his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to take over the libertarian reigns and in a possible 2016 presidential bid.
Paul currently has 98 delegates to presumptive nominee Romney's 960, according to CBS News estimates.
Benton said Mitt Romney's campaign has been receptive to Paul's platform positions in "several conference calls" between the two campaigns. But asked whether Paul would endorse Romney as the party's nominee, Benton said, "I do not believe that that is likely."
Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas,, but that he won't formally suspend his campaign either. The libertarian candidate's organization will continue to accumulate delegates to send to the Republican National Convention.