Rand Paul to His Father’s Devotees: Let’s Face It, We Lost

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage from the GOP convention.

TREASURE ISLAND, Fla.—Tonight, at long last, marks the end of Ron Paul, Presidential Candidate. The congressman from Texas will be paid tribute from the main stage of the RNC, with a video introduced by his senator son. Following the video, Rand Paul himself will get a prime-time speech. This is the fruit of the long, obvious, and clever decision by Team Paul to accept that Mitt Romney was the frontrunner to win the GOP nomination, and to carve out some space to his right without lambasting him.

During this convention week, Ron’s been able to walk away from the niceties. He told the New York Times that he would not fully endorse Romney – a step further into the fold than 2008, when he endorsed third party candidates for president, but still a sort of swipe at the loyalty-focused GOP. It’s been up to Rand to convince delegates and activists that they should stay inside the GOP and settle for a slow takeover. I watched him do this on the convention floor yesterday (piece upcoming) and watched it again today, as Rand addressed the Iowa delegates’ breakfast. (The Iowa delegation is heavily Paul’d up.)

“Politics is messy,” said Paul. The facts were the facts: “Ron Paul got a small percentage of the primary vote and a larger percentage of the delegates. You could argue they had a disproportionate influence.” Not that he was knocking their effort, but “we can’t take our toys and go home. I think the best way to influence the party is to stay in the party, to make the party bigger and stronger.”

The fireworks have been fun. But not even the Pauls think they benefitted from them. Funny enough, it was the second breakfast speaker, Ted Cruz, who sounded the only discordant note about Romney.

“Republicans get in trouble when we worry about whose turn it is,” he said. “That doesn’t have a history of going well for us.”

It was a comment about his own campaign, but the resonance was hard to miss.