Do Ron Paul’s supporters plan to sow chaos at RNC in Tampa?

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Mainstream Republicans afraid Ron Paul’s steady accumulation of delegates will cause chaos at their national convention in Tampa just received a terrifying preview of what a worst-case scenario might look like, writes Benjy Sarlin.

In Oklahoma on Saturday, Paul supporters and Romney supporters reportedly came to blows as the Paul side fell short of electing their slate of delegates amid cries of foul play, including the use of a voice vote instead of a more painstaking roll call to decide the outcome. Speaking at the event, Romney surrogates Tim Pawlenty and the state’s own governor, Mary Fallin, drew jeers.

At the state convention in Arizona, also this weekend, the presumptive nominee’s son, Josh Romney, was booed off the stage by Paul supporters, some of whom derided his father as “the white Obama.”

At this point it’s way too late to keep Paul from having a sizable presence at the Republican National Convention, and likely control of enough state delegations to put his name up for a floor vote against Romney. But it’s still an open question just what these delegates and other Paul activists planning events for the national convention will do when they actually get there.

Paul himself has bristled at the suggestion that a convention with a substantial presence of supporters would be a chaotic affair, even while he has endorsed their continued efforts to score delegates.

“It certainly isn’t for the reason of disrupting the convention,” Paul told CNN last week. He said he was following his current strategy because “moving an agenda is very important and to do that we need to maximize the number of delegates that we have.”

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.