The Maine and Nevada convention victories for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul mean at least six states will send Paul majorities to the national convention. This gives the Texas congressman a strong possibility of a prime-time appearance at the podium.
Mitt Romney has 856 delegates, 288 shy of the number he needs to clinch the nomination. Paul has 94, according to an Associated Press count. But Paul and his active crew may get quite a few more delegates. Minnesota and Missouri are on the horizon as likely possibilities.
There are 107 delegates at stake in primaries Tuesday in North Carolina, Indiana and West Virginia. An ABC News analysis says Paul has a “mathematical shot” at winning delegations from Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont.
Short of winning the nomination, Paul and his supporters may be able to upset a hoped-for Romney coronation in Tampa the way they influenced the state Republican conventions in Maine and Nevada. They may be able to suspend the rules, make all sorts of motions from the floor, deliver speeches from the podium and possibly get some of their ideas into the party platform.
Romney is in a ticklish spot. If he should succeed in quieting the Paul forces, he might alienate them so badly that they wouldn’t eventually join forces with him to try to beat Barack Obama. So the Tampa convention may be excruciating for the Romney team but great theater for the Democrats and independents.