U.S. Rep. Ron Paul proclaims "great news" in a message to supporters posted online June 6, 2012.
The Texas presidential candidate says: "Due to the smart planning of our campaign and the hard work and diligence of supporters like you, we stand to send nearly 200 bound delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. This number shatters the predictions of the pundits and talking heads and shows the seriousness of our movement."
Paul’s message continues: "What’s more, we will send several hundred additional supporters to Tampa who, while bound to" presumptive nominee Mitt "Romney, believe in our ideas of liberty, constitutional government, and a common-sense foreign policy. When it is all said and done, we will likely have as many as 500 supporters as delegates on the convention floor. That is just over 20 percent!"
We don’t know how anyone could pin the number of philosophical supporters Paul will have at the convention in late August. Setting that aside, is it correct, as Paul says, that his campaign stands to send nearly 200 "bound delegates" to Tampa?
Agreed, one could view Paul’s declaration as a prediction that’s not factually checkable. We see it, though, as a done-did-it boast; note his present-tense crow that the total "shatters the predictions" of others.
Let’s look at whether evidence backs up his message.
Paul’s campaign did not reply to our requests for elaboration. So, unfortunately, we do not know how he gets to his "nearly 200" count.
An independent monitor of delegates won by each candidate, the Associated Press news organization, pegs Paul’s current delegate count at 137. It puts Romney at 1,480 of the party’s 2,286 delegates. Other former candidates and delegate counts, as tabulated by the AP: Rick Santorum (267); Newt Gingrich (138); Jon Huntsman (2).
On a web page showing the count, the AP says Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, "became the Republican party's presidential nominee by crossing the threshold of 1,144 delegates to the GOP national convention. ... Most delegates are awarded through state primaries and caucuses. Other delegates, mostly members of the Republican National Committee, are free to endorse any candidate they choose at any time, even before a primary. The Associated Press includes such delegates in its tally once they declare a candidate preference."
According to the AP, Paul’s delegates were accumulated in 21 states, starting with one delegate in Iowa’s Jan. 3, 2012, caucuses and three in the subsequent New Hampshire primary. Paul drew the majority of delegates resulting from February caucuses in Minnesota and Maine, drawing 30 and 21 delegates, respectively. He won 18 delegates in the Texas primary in May.
Notably, too, some delegates remain to be chosen. For instance, Utah, where Romney has long ties, will determine 40 delegates via its June 26 primary.
For deeper perspective, we asked the reporter who oversees the AP count, Stephen Ohlemacher, if Paul stands to have nearly 200 bound delegates at the convention.
Ohlemacher said that’s theoretically possible.
When we visited by phone on June 13, 2012, Ohlemacher said the AP had either not determined — or voters and activists had yet to decide — how about 230 delegates break out between Romney and Paul, counting 46 members of the Republican National Committee yet to say who they support. RNC members are automatic delegates and may support any candidate they choose.
Ohlemacher elaborated in a follow-up email: "Delegates are bound -- or unbound -- based on state party rules. For delegates who are bound by the outcome of primaries, I simply do the calculations on election night and verify them later with the state party. State parties sometimes wait for the certified election results, which can take a month or longer in some states.
"For unbound delegates, the AP asks them whom they support. If they say they support a candidate, we count the delegate in that candidate’s total. But we don’t bind them. In fact, when the nomination was still in doubt, we re-interviewed many RNC delegates several times to see if they had changed their minds."
In five of six states with caucuses -- Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Maine and Washington -- the AP reached delegate counts by assuming each candidate would capture the share of delegates commensurate with how they fared on caucus day, even though actual mix of delegates would be determined later, Ohlemacher said.
Still to settle out, he said, are Utah’s winner-take-all primary and delegate-selection decisions at state conventions in Iowa, where the party chair supports Paul and 26 delegates are to be awarded; Montana, with 23 delegates at issue; and Nebraska, with 32 delegates at stake.
Looking back, Ohlemacher said that in Pennsylvania, 59 delegates were elected directly on the ballot, with no indication whom they supported for president. The AP reached 31 of them, he said, with 28 yet to respond, making their candidate choices unknown. Also, he said, the Pennsylvania party has yet to pick 10 additional delegates.
On another front, Louisiana’s recent state convention ended with 23 delegates not assigned to candidates, he said. Five were to be "uncommitted," he said, based on the state’s GOP primary results. Also, he said, the AP has not determined the alignment of 12 delegates picked at the Illinois state convention or 16 delegates chosen at Indiana’s convention.
It could be, we suppose, that Paul picks up enough yet-to-be determined delegates to have nearly 200 delegates at the convention. However, it also seems unlikely Paul could have known as much for a certainty when he sent his message.
Separately, we contacted Romney’s campaign about delegate counts and didn’t hear back. We also nudged Ted Kwong, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, who deferred to the AP’s count. "We don’t have an official, up-to-date delegate count," Kwong said by phone.
If enough yet-to-be-chosen or yet-to-declare delegates go Paul’s way, he could land nearly 200 delegates.
However, we rate claims based on what’s known when the claims are made. Paul had 137 delegates when he wrote supporters about shattering predictions. We rate his statement Mostly False.