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What's with Ron Paul's fans anyway? Romney takes 37 of Wash.'s 43 delegates

TACOMA, Wash. — They jeer at the idea of coalescing behind Mitt Romney. They're still scraping for every possible delegate. And they hold out hope that Ron Paul could win the presidency this year.

By just by watching Paul's loyal supporters, you'd never know that the Republican presidential contest is over.

Given that the delegate math makes it virtually impossible for the Texas congressman to win the nomination, it seems quixotic for his libertarian-leaning backers to continue their crusade. Here's a primer on what's going on among Paul's disciples and why they haven't given up:

Didn't Romney win the nomination?

Yes, Romney has already won enough delegates (far surpassing the 1,144 needed) to formally secure the GOP nomination at the convention in August. Along with five delegates he won in Washington on Friday, Paul now has about 140 pledged to him — less than Rick Santorum, who already dropped out of the race. Many Paul supporters are unwilling to concede, however, and a few say the media has conspired to make Romney the presumptive winner. They booed on Friday when Romney's son, Josh, implored them to unite in support of the assumed candidate. Some Paul backers are still holding out hope that he could become the Republican nominee.

Honestly, is there any possible way for Paul to win?

Most Paul loyalists acknowledge that delegates bound to vote for Romney at the national convention would have to break their pledges en masse in order for Paul to win — a development that borders on inconceivable. It would mean that delegates, many of whom are GOP activists who have backed Romney for a long time, would take repercussions from the party for violating the rules of the process and then throw their support behind Paul instead of another alternative. Matt Dubin, a Paul delegate and organizer in Washington state, said it was both unlikely and something he is not advocating. Still, he said, it's something he would like to see happen. If that turmoil somehow occurred, Paul would also likely have to recruit disgruntled supporters of Santorum and Newt Gingrich to back him.

Are there any other reasons to amass delegates?

The more people they have inside the convention, the more power Paul's folks have in influencing both the party and Romney, and they desperately want a voice in the party's policy platform. In his Washington state convention speech, Dubin told the crowd that the Paul delegation was the future of the Republican party and said they wanted to hold Romney's feet to the fire so that he doesn't waver from conservative principles. They're particularly advocating for strict policies that would balance the federal budget and overhaul the Federal Reserve — ideas that fit nicely with mainstream GOP proposals. Paul supporters helped shape Washington state's platform development to emphasize those points. The Texas congressman also has some unconventional Republican proposals, such as his opposition to American intervention abroad and government efforts to fight terrorism at home.

What is Paul saying?

Paul suspended active campaigning in May, saying he would no longer compete in states that have not voted. But he encouraged his supporters to continue their work in state conventions, in which dedication by his activists can give them influence over state parties and a chance to add to his delegate total for the national convention. He has not indicated whether he will endorse Romney.

Will Paul's folks ever back Romney?

This is an important question for the general election. Many Paul delegates said the ultimate goal is to oust President Barack Obama and that they would reluctantly campaign for Romney if he was the other option. Others said they would never back Romney. Steve Holmes, 60, of Deer Park, said he didn't see a difference between Obama and Romney. If Ron Paul wasn't on the ballot, Holmes said, he planned to write Paul's name in.

Romney gets 13 more delegates at Wash. convention

TACOMA, Wash. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has secured Washington state's 13 final delegates.

Romney swept all 10 at-large delegates at the state convention on Saturday and then got the support of the party's three automatic delegates. That means Romney emerged from Washington with 37 of the state's 43 total delegates.

Supporters of Texas congressman Ron Paul won five delegates on Friday and helped a delegate for Rick Santorum move to the national convention.

Romney's delegates include U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. It also includes state Sen. Pam Roach, who was once banished from the Senate GOP caucus because of her conduct. She was allowed back in earlier this year when Senate Republicans led a revolt on the state budget.

Roach got the least number of votes of the chosen at-large delegates.

Democratic convention

The mayor of Newark, N.J., has told the Washington state Democratic Party convention that the Obama campaign offered some advice as he prepared his Seattle speech — don't stick your foot in your mouth again.

Cory Booker drew a laugh as part of a warm welcome from his Friday night audience.

Booker earlier drew flak from fellow Democrats for criticizing President Barack Obama's campaign. In a May 20 appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" he described as "nauseating" attack ads against Bain Capital. That's the private equity firm once run by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Booker backed off the remarks in a YouTube video, saying he was just expressing frustration with negative campaigning.

The Seattle Times reports ( that Booker's speech touted Obama's record as well as the mayor's take on the Democratic Party's achievements and the need to push hard in the coming election. He also touched on the Washington governor's race, this week's fatal shootings in Seattle and Newark's own experience with violence.

Earlier version of this story:

Mitt Romney has won more than half of Washington state's delegates so far, winning 24 compared to five secured by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

Washington will send 43 delegates to the national convention in Tampa, Fla. While Romney won the state's caucus straw poll in March, that was just the first in a multistep process to officially allocate 40 of those delegates to a candidate.

While most Republicans were listening to conservative commentator Michelle Malkin at the other end of downtown,reports the Tacoma New Tribune, Paul supporters mingled, listened to speeches of their own and trained for a fight to gain as many delegates as possible to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Continues the Tribune:

But they also looked to the future. Many in the crowd are running to be precinct committee officers, the neighborhood representatives who have a say in how the party runs. “We are the new activist branch of the Republican Party,” Dubin said, “and soon, very soon, all GOP candidates will be forced to seek our support if they want any chance of success.”

Thirty delegates were elected Friday during the congressional district caucuses, and 10 will be elected Saturday. Three others are automatic delegates, including the state party chairman.

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