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GOP moves to suppress Ron Paul supporters at convention

The Republican National Convention is supposed to be the national, thoroughly choreographed platform for a unified conservative party. But convention planners are finding that difficult to pull off.

Last week, the Republican National Committee rescheduled the roll call vote for the presidential nomination—usually a formality, in which delegates give a voice vote for their candidates—in hopes of reducing media coverage and preventing dissenting Ron Paul delegates from drawing undue attention.

But when a hurricane botched the RNC's well-laid plans, convention planners were sent back to the drawing board to keep party dissent out of the media limelight. The solution: Rigging the seating arrangements.

Delegations from Nevada, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota and Oklahoma—states with large Paul movements—have been moved to the outer edges of the convention floor. Delegations from the Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa will now occupy prominent positions front and center.

“Sure their votes don’t count in November," said Rachel Maddow on Monday's The Rachel Maddow Show, "but what’s more important for the TV cameras is that their delegates are unlikely to start yelling about raw milk or the gold standard."

Paulites aren’t the only party dissenters giving planners grey hairs this week, though.

Several Conservative groups, including James Bopp, Rick Santorum supporters, and pro-life groups are planning a protest roll call vote on the convention floor in opposition to Republican Party plans to change the nominating process. The proposed rule changes would allow front-runner candidates to effectively shut down dissident candidates at the convention.

“This is supposed to be the Yay Mitt Romney Convention,” Maddow said. “And instead it’s going to be that, but also lots of other Republicans—many of whom who have big constituencies—arguing in a big room in front of TV cameras.”

Political conventions are always intended to be scripted events, Maddow said, though she added that “when your party has divisions, those divisions tend to show at times like this.”