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GOP fight erupts over 'disavowing' Paul delegates

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Columnists,Politics Digest

Tuesday update: Dozens more emails have gone out to activists urging pressure on delegates to the Republican National Convention to kill the pending rule that would let Romney "disavow" delegates not supporting him in advance of the nominating vote.

TAMPA, Fla. - A last minute fight has erupted at the Republican National Convention over Romney campaign-supported rules that would allow Mitt Romney to "disavow" delegates, presumably Ron Paul's, that he doesn't want voting on his nomination.

"This is like George Washington versus King George," said longtime Texas conservative activist and delegate Louis "Butch" Davis. "It's going to be a bloodbath."

But the fight isn't between Paul and Romney, added Davis and activist groups like the Eagle Forum. What angers Davis and at least 12 state delegations is that the proposed rule would take away a state's right to pick their delegates. "That's the point of having an election," said Davis, who supports Romney.

The Eagle Forum has led the assault on the GOP rules set to be approved by convention delegates on Tuesday. According to an emergency email sent by the Eagle Forum this week, "The proposed rule change would allow the residential nominee to 'disavow' duly elected delegates and force the states to hold new elections to replace any delegate or alternate deemed unacceptable by the nominee."

That, they added, "would not only undermine the will of the electorate and give the presumptive nominee enormous power to block delegates with whom he or she disagrees."

"This is a power grab," said Davis.

Not all states elect delegates, but those like Texas, where Davis is from, want to keep that right. What's more, they also want to maintain their own rules which have delegates voting in the same percentages at the GOP convention as the candidates received in the presidential primary.

Some 12 state delegations are lined up to fight the rule change Tuesday. They are Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina and Texas.

"This battle is not about preferring one candidate over another, it is about protecting each state's right to choose how it selects and governs its own delegates. We need you to take action today!" said the Eagle Forum.

Below is the language in question:

RULE NO. 16

Election, Selection, Allocation, or Binding of Delegates and Alternate Delegates

(a) Binding and Allocation.

(1) Any statewide presidential preference vote that permits a choice among candidates for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in a primary, caucuses, or a state convention must be used to allocate and bind the state's delegation to the national convention in either a proportional or winner-take-all manner, except for delegates and alternate delegates who appear on a ballot in a statewide election and are elected directly by primary voters.

(2) For any manner of binding or allocating delegates permitted by these rules, no delegate or alternate delegate who is bound or allocated to a particular presidential candidate may be certified under Rule No. 20 if the presidential candidate to whom the delegate or alternate delegate is bound or allocated has, in consultation with the state party, disavowed the delegate or alternate delegate.