Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign will continue to pursue its convention delegate strategy despite the candidate's abrupt announcement Monday that he is suspending active campaign activities.
The Texas congressman's plan is to stop spending campaign funds on the remaining Republican presidential primaries, but to continue to work to rack up state delegates to the Republican National Convention this summer in Tampa, Fla.
By doing so, Paul hopes to have a powerful presence at the convention, through which he and his legion of hard-core supporters hope that they will be able to drive the direction and platform of the Republican party as it rallies for a hard-fought general election campaign against President Barack Obama.
Our campaign will continue to work in the state convention process. We will continue to take leadership positions, win delegates, and carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that liberty is the way of the future, Paul said Monday, according to USA Today.
Moving forward, however, we will no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted. Doing so with any hope of success would take many tens of millions of dollars we simply do not have, he said.
But Ron Paul and his staffers have long said that their goal was not to win the popular vote but to attempt to influence the election, or even secure the GOP nomination, through the process of getting state delegates to the RNC to support him.
Though an Associated Press tally recently put Romney's delegate count at 966 vs. Ron Paul's 104 (1,144 delegates are needed to secure the party's nod), that greatly underestimates the endurance of Paul's influence, which could make for an interesting convention.
And Paul's numbers are very likely to go up despite his decision to suspend active campaign activities. Paul already has 20 of 24 delegates in Minnesota locked up, and is on track to notch major delegate hauls in Iowa, Nevada, Washington and Alaska. Even Romney's home state of Massachusetts is leaning Paul-ward, according to the Boston Globe.
One of the key factors at play that is allowing Ron Paul 2012 to continue to rack up delegates is the level of anyone-but-Romney sentiment that remains in the Republican party's more conservative corners. As the party has lurched rightward in recent years, libertarian and ultra-conservative groups have gone from the fringes to the mainstream, which only helps Paul's prospects.
As voters who went for Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain begin to weigh the two remaining candidates, many of them are joining the Paul camp out of dissatisfaction with the policies of Romney.
And Paul, though a long-shot, still has a chance of winning the nomination, if historical precedent is to be considered. Warren G. Harding, who in 1920 went into the RNC with fewer delegates than any other candidate still on the ballot, ended up winning the GOP nod, and eventually the presidency.
USA Today does a good job in its Monday piece of describing what drives Ron Paul's continued relevance:
In a CNN interview last week, Paul said he's still collecting delegates so he can change the GOP's direction. In some ways, he already has. The 2012 race has at times focused on issues such as spiraling debt and federal budget deficits -- issues that Paul has long warned about both in his previous presidential races and congressional campaigns.
As the convention gets nearer it waits to be seen just what his influence will be. But one thing is definitively true: those who support what they call the Ron Paul Revolution will not be silenced simply because their standard-bearer has closed the coffers.