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Paul campaign has new tactic to win delegates, hijack GOP convention

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Dec. 30, 2011: Ron Paul signs a toy car during a campaign stop in Le Mars, Iowa.AP

Despite Ron Paul having essentially no shot at winning the GOP presidential nomination, his renegade campaign has embarked on a new tactic that his supporters hope can get the Texas congressmen elected – or at least get him a larger role at the party convention and cause headaches for likely nominee Mitt Romney.

The Paul campaign is attempting to secure convention-bound delegates in district- and state-level contests to vote for their candidate, though Paul has failed to win a single primary or caucus.

Primary math typically adds up to the winner getting the most delegates, which puts Romney far ahead of Paul.

However, Paul campaigners think a strong presence at state-level contests could help them influence and win enough remaining delegates to help their candidate perhaps win a brokered nomination at the national convention, should Romney not get enough votes in the first round. It at least could get Paul more attention for his tiny-government platform.

“Our campaign strategy has always been to amass the maximum amount of delegates possible, and continuing work in state caucus-conventions is part of that,” Paul spokesman Gary Howard said Thursday.

Even so, some Republican strategists say such tactics are hurting the party and its efforts to unify for the general election.

“The bottom line is any attempt to gather more delegates (for Paul) is not likely to yield success,” said Taylor Griffin, a GOP strategist at the Washington, D.C.-based Hamilton Place Strategies. “The only person it’s going to help is Barack Obama.”

This weekend, the Paul campaign appears to be eyeing 25 delegates up for grabs at the GOP convention in Nevada, where Romney won the state caucus with roughly 50 percent of the vote in February.

The notion that the Paul campaign might try to tinker with the Nevada delegate count has prompted the Republican National Committee’s top lawyer to send a letter to the Nevada state party.

Chief counsel John R. Phillippe Jr. told party Chairman Michael McDonald on Wednesday that such maneuvering could result in the entire Nevada delegation not getting seated at the convention.

Phillippe made clear the letter was “purely advisory” but said it was “highly likely” that a committee with jurisdiction over these matters might find such changes improper.

In Iowa, Paul could win a chunk of the 28 delegates available next month at the district-state convention, after finishing third and receiving just one delegate in the January caucus.

Last week, Paul dominated the Louisiana state caucus, though he won just 6 percent of the primary vote, and he could do the same at the June 2 state convention.

Paul campaigners also appear to be focusing on at least three other states – including Maine, Massachusetts and Washington – which could give them enough delegates to at least make some noise on the convention floor.