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Romney staff helps stamp out Paul's longshot hopes in Nebraska

Mitt Romney’s campaign had a heavy presence this weekend in Nebraska to help ensure that Texas Rep. Ron Paul would not have the chance to have his name put forward as a potential GOP presidential nominee at next month’s convention in Tampa.

At least five staffers, including campaign lawyer Ben Ginsberg, attended the Nebraska state convention this weekend, where the state’s Republicans were formally selecting delegates to send to Florida. Paul needed to win a majority of the delegates in Nebraska to add to the four other states he had won, and meet the five-state threshold he needed to at least maintain his longshot bid for the Republican nomination.

When all the votes were counted, the Texas congressman only won two of Nebraska’s 35 national slots – despite rallying supporters the night before on a conference call. 

Nebraska Republican Gov. Dave Heineman did not attend the convention, but reportedly “worked actively behind the scenes to personally contact Nebraska Republicans who made the delegate selections.” As the first Republican governor to endorse Romney, Heineman wanted to avoid embarrassment and deliver his home state.

“We had a primary process,” Heineman said. “Mitt Romney won that and Ron Paul didn’t win a single state. I wanted Nebraska to reflect that.”

State party officials had security concerns due to the intense interest of Paul supporters after being warned by Republicans in other states their event may encounter “significant disturbances.” They initially planned to hire additional security guards to patrol the convention, but the idea was withdrawn days later and the convention concluded at the Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island with no major problems.

“We did it the Nebraska way. In Nebraska, we can have our disagreements but, at the end of the day, we work together,” state GOP chair Mark Fahleson told the Omaha World Herald.

Paul revealed that his staff has spoken indirectly with the Romney campaign about the national convention and described their organization as “very insecure.”

“They want to build a party and they preach this thing about big tent -- it's not like I'm preaching socialism,” Paul said Friday on Fox News, addressing fears over his presence in Tampa. “I am … for doing exactly what Republicans claim they believe in. So it is sort of ironic. … Why can’t we have a little debate?”

The Paul campaign claims to have 500 supporters as delegates – most bound by state party rules to vote in favor of Mitt Romney for president – and on Friday, the leader of this movement hinted at the influence they can have on nominations for vice president.

“The rules dictate who gets to be nominated … not only for a president, but for vice president as well,” Paul declared.

RNC Rule 40 (b) states that “each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a plurality of the delegates from each of five (5) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination.”

The Paul campaign believes they have a plurality of delegates in at least nine states and are also represented in non-Romney slates of delegates from other states headed to the national convention. These activists originally supported someone other than Romney during the primaries and aren’t bound by state party rules to vote for the former Bain executive’s vice presidential pick,  which could present a challenge to Romney during the symbolic procedure of officially endorsing the nominee’s pick for vice president.