The Ron Paul Delegate Strategy Wounds a Republican Rising Star

Minnesota’s 2012 U.S. Senate race is one of the less promising Republican targets. The incumbent, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, is a perfectly generic, gaffe-free Democrat in a bluer and bluer state. No one’s counting on the GOP to beat her. So the race was set to be a try-out for a promising young Republican – Pete Hegseth, the disturbingly square-jawed founder of the pro-Iraq surge “Vets for Freedom.” He’s 31. He’s as telegenic as all-get out.

He is outnumbered by Ron Paul supporters.

The great Hegseth try-out was stalled this weekend by the Ron Paul Delegate Strategy. Paul showed up for both days of the Minnesota GOP convention, canceling an event in California in order to lock down 32 of 40 Republican delegates. Ask yourself: Was a convention full of anti-war libertarians likely to reward a Senate candidate who spent 2007 stumping for more troops to go to Kirkuk? No. The convention went to Rep. Kurt Bills, who had endorsed Paul for president. There are many anecdotes to pick from, but this is my favorite, which came after a Paulian was asked if he could vote for Romney.

“Absolutely not,” said Nathan Atkins, a Republican convention delegate and Paul backer from Minneapolis. “I really don’t think he’s that different than Barack Obama. He doesn’t represent change.”

Atkins was wearing a tinfoil hat, a nod to more traditional GOP activists who have ridiculed Paul’s backers as paranoid conspiracy theorists. He said if Paul isn’t on the presidential ballot, he’d likely vote for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.