Veterans for Ron Paul at RNC angered by replacement

Seven Ron Paul-supporting delegates from Maine replaced by a committee at the Republican National Convention were veterans, according to one of the ousted members.

“I was an elected delegate in the state of Maine, duly elected for the convention, and a committee of nine individuals here at the RNC removed me. I’m a four-time veteran of Afghanistan, seven years active duty, six years National Guard,” said Sam Canders in the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

This comes after the Republican National Committee’s move to replace half of Maine’s delegates (Paul supporters) for backers of party favorite Mitt Romney after alleged procedural violations last week.

“What happened was, the main contingent of 10 primary delegates and 10 alternate delegates that were removed from their duly elected positions were replaced by a contest committee at the RNC,” explained Canders. “And I just wanted to point out that of our entire delegation of Ron Paul supporters, eight were veterans…seven of those veterans were removed of their delegate status. Only one maintained his credentials.”

Canders was handing out fact sheets protesting the decision and warning of new party rules, which in one section read: “Contrary to RNC reports, the Maine Convention passed a Credentials Report as scheduled on the first day.” Printed further down on the sheet was the accusation: “A few party favorites were upset that they lost their elections and used political favors to have the results thrown out.”

Kirsten Kukowski, press secretary for the RNC, provided this statement: “The RNC Credentials Committee accepted the RNC Contest Committee report that sought input from both parties to reach a final delegation for Maine. All of the contests went through the proper process and both parties gave their input in the final decision.”

Canders said the replaced veterans had a combined 80 years of service under their belt. He wasn’t the only former military man near the convention floor flustered by the debacle, either.

“Ron Paul is the only candidate who is committed to bringing the troops home and saving American lives,” said Iraq war veteran Reid Davis, citing Paul’s stated policy to bring all U.S. troops from every foreign base home to the 50 states. Davis is a bulky redhead from Dallas, who wandered the convention hallways in Army Combat Uniform (ACU) trousers, tan boots and a green t-shirt advertising the phrase, “Veterans for Ron Paul,” contrasting the black sport coats and cowboy hats honed by most attendees.

A former member of the 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, Davis was there in what he called a “show of force” to protest the replacements.

“They fought their tail off — even after we won particular states like Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada — to get our delegates unseated because they knew we put a network together that was superior to theirs,” he said. “We actually put together enough numbers to steal the nomination and get it away from Mitt Romney, so I’m here to show my support.”

Davis’ and Canders’ grievances were echoed by disgruntled Paul supporters who have picketed some outside portions of the convention.

Old and young alike made up the modest-sized crowds, carrying peace symbol-decorated American flags. Signs with messages like “Ron Paul 2012” and “Pick Your Priority: Republican Party or U.S. Constitution” were speckled throughout the protest.

Canders was visibly upset when roaming the convention floor. “Those people not only served in the military, they tried to serve in the democratic process as well, and they were removed from that process completely, and weren’t allowed to represent the state and the position they were elected in,” he said.

Davis echoed that sentiment. He feels that the balance was tipped in Romney’s favor through marginalization in the mainstream media and “outright voter fraud” in the main delegation and Oklahoma delegation, among others.

“I am sickened by the tactics the GOP has utilized to just steal the delegates and establish new delegates in their place,” he said. “These are the same people who sit there and say they support the troops, and then when we try to go and do something, they pull the rug out from underneath us.”