Ron Paul has acknowledged for the first time he is unlikely to win the Republican nomination, but plans to remain active at state GOP conventions.
The announcement follows Paul’s decision on Monday to stop campaigning in future primaries.
Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton told reporters on a conference call today, “Gov. Romney has what is very likely an insurmountable delegate lead.” He also conceded, “We’re very unlikely to block that nomination.”
The campaign was hoping, until recently, for a brokered convention in which delegates bound to Romney on the first ballot could vote for the libertarian-leaning congressman on the second.
“Unfortunately, other candidates were not able to maintain their strength and only Gov. Romney remained,” Benton said.
Despite not winning a single state this election, the campaign insists that it won a plurality of delegates from Maine and sees “several other state victories on the horizon,” including Minnesota.
Paul will be heading to Minnesota this Friday to speak at the state GOP convention there and will also speak at the Texas GOP Convention on June 7 and the upcoming GOP conventions in Washington State and Iowa.
Benton hopes that Paul can use his delegate muscle to influence the party platform at the upcoming Republican national convention in Tampa.
Benton has been in discussion with Romney’s campaign over incorporating Paul’s priorities — including prohibiting indefinite detention for American citizens, protecting Internet freedom and limiting the power of the Federal Reserve — into the GOP platform.
Benton is encouraging supporters who have clashed with Romney backers in recent weeks, to stay civil at the convention.
“We are doing everything in our power to work with our supporters to make sure decorum and respect are the name of the game,” Benton said.
He added that he knew “our supporters are going to get an excessive amount of blame for problems that arise at heated conventions.”
Senior aides concede that Paul was nervous that the actions of his supporters at state conventions threatened to tarnish the long-term viability of the movement Paul has spent decades building.
But the bigger fear, these same sources said, is that the hostilities will affect Paul’s son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is widely expected to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Benton couldn’t say what role the Kentucky senator will play in his father’s campaign over the next several months. Rand Paul has previously said that he will support the eventual nominee.
Paul still hasn’t said whether he intends to support Romney for president, citing concerns over the former governor’s position on the Federal Reserve and about his commitment to cutting spending.
Asked whether Paul will endorse Romney, Benton said, “I do not believe that is likely,” but added, “I would never say never.”