Ron Paul will no longer campaign in any reminding primary states, but what does he really want? Talking Points Memo wonders if the campaign is going to create a scene at the GOP convention. ABC News thinks he might try to use his influence to change elements of the party platform.
But what if Ron Paul's real goal is not to make a scene at Tampa? Ed Morrisey argues in The Week that Ron Paul has his eye on a bigger prize: seizing the machinery the Republican Party:
Paul will now focus his efforts on consolidating his gains in caucus states and taking delegates away from the other three Republicans. That doesn't put Romney at any risk; he has 806 bound delegates already, even apart from any he may still carry from caucus states. The remaining 10 binding primaries have 603 delegates at stake, more than enough to carry Mitt to the 1,144 delegates necessary for the nomination.
However, Paul's strategy will necessarily erode the standing of his other competitors. Gingrich has claims on 148 delegates at the moment, and Santorum 278, while Paul has a grand total of 99 — counting the outcomes of caucus states, which only actually get decided at conventions later in the process. Paul's campaign has laid the groundwork to take a number of those delegates for himself, which will raise his profile at the Republican convention while diluting the influence of Santorum and Gingrich.
He has already succeeded in winning half of Minnesota's delegates, thanks to superior organization at the local and congressional-district conventions, taking an important victory away from Santorum. Paul may well win the rest of Minnesota's delegates at the state convention, and then repeat this process in caucus state after caucus state. There is a good possibility that Paul will have more delegates than anyone not named Mitt Romney by the time Republicans gather for their quadrennial convention in Tampa.
Most people miss the fact that Paul has already achieved his end game, or is within a few weeks of its conclusion. The aim for Paul isn't the convention, which is a mainly meaningless but entertaining exercise in American politics. The real goal was to seize control of party apparatuses in states that rely on caucuses. With that in hand, Paul's organization can direct party funds and operations to recruit and support candidates that follow Paul's platform, and in that way exert some influence on the national Republican Party as well, potentially for years to come. Paul hasn't won every battle in that fight, but Minnesota will probably end up being more the rule than the exception.