TAMPA, Fla. -- A divided Republican Party was on full display Tuesday when Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) supporters and other grassroots activists loudly booed House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on the first full day of the Republican National Convention.
The fight was over the unglamorous rules process that dictates how delegates are apportioned in each state. Paul didn't sweep the ballot boxes in state caucuses and primaries, but his supporters quietly worked behind the scenes in an effort to take control of state parties and delegate assignments.
The RNC's rules committee adopted provisions that would bar this sort of insurgent takeover from happening in the future: Convention delegates would bebound to vote for the candidate who won statewide at the ballot box.
In other words, when there is a statewide popular vote, if the result is not winner-take-all, each candidate must get delegates in proportion to their percentage of the popular vote. The rule was proposed and pushed through the committee by lieutenants loyal to Romney. Some Republicans, including ones loyal to Romney,opposed the rule change, arguing it hurt grassroots activism.
Twenty Paul backers from Maine were also stripped of their spots as official delegates after the RNC concluded that their election was invalid.
On Tuesday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called for a full delegation vote on the rules, including the ones the Paul backers opposed. The voice vote of ayes and nays were equal in volume, but Boehner immediately gave it to the ayes, leading to loud boos and shouts from Paul supporters.
The dismissed Maine delegation was easy to spot on Tuesday. They were all wearing white baseball caps that read "Maine 2012" and had a picture of Paul. Before the vote on the rules, Paul supporters would frequently interrupt the proceedings with shouts of "Seat them now" (referring to the Maine delegation), "We were robbed," "President Paul" and "Point of order."