DES MOINES, Iowa -- Ron Paul has given up on becoming president, but loyal supporters are promising to promote the libertarian-leaning Texas congressman's principles at the Republican National Convention this summer, a potential complication for Mitt Romney's goal of a peaceful coronation.
Paul backers have taken over state Republican conventions in Nevada and Maine, and had a strong showing this weekend in Iowa, aiming to increase their voice and clout at the nominating convention in Tampa, Fla.
The majority of delegates to the national convention elected by Iowa Republicans will be Paul backers.
"We want to send Ron Paul-inspired folks to that convention to show we're not going away," said Iowa Republican David Fischer, a top Paul backer in the state.
Supporters say they hope to promote Paul's conservative principles, which have attracted a strong following of young voters and Tea Party activists, by flooding ballots for the convention and urging changes to the party platform.
Since Paul's unsuccessful 2008 candidacy for the GOP nomination, his top organizers have set about working within the party's structure to gain influence. The hope is to bend it toward principles he espouses, chiefly smaller government, sound monetary policy and a limited international military presence.
Paul stopped campaigning last month after netting only 137 of the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination. His son, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a national Tea Party figure, has endorsed Romney.
Ron Paul's impossible odds didn't discourage activists from seizing 32 of the 40 national delegates last month at Minnesota's GOP convention.
In Maine, 21-year-old Paul supporter Ashley Ryan was elected the state's new Republican national committeewoman, a testament to what supporters see as new blood the Paul campaign has attracted to the GOP.
That's in addition to taking top roles in state party organizations in states including Iowa. A.J. Spiker, who ran Paul's campaign for Iowa's leadoff nominating caucuses, was elected state GOP chairman in February.