TAMPA, Fla. — The carefully orchestrated coronation of Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate for president was threatened with derailment, thanks in part to Laura Clarbour’s heartfelt heckling from the nosebleed seats.
As delegates cast their votes Tuesday in the Tampa Bay Times Forum in downtown Tampa, 33-year-old Clarbour was up in section 308’s lofty mezzanine, shouting at the top of her lungs in support of Texas State Rep. Ron Paul. The erstwhile candidate for the Republican presidential nomination continues to enjoy the zealous support of a rag-tag band of die-hards, even as hundreds of delegates gather this week in Tampa to nominate Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.
The disruption reflected the changing nature of national political conventions. They traditionally served the purpose of having a party decide whom to nominate for president; competitors worked behind the scenes and sometimes on the floor to negotiate among ideological and political factions. Now major party conventions occur after special-interest groups and big donors have already finished the fight for the nomination in the primaries and caucuses; by the time the delegates arrive at the convention, their job is to act out a carefully scripted made-for-TV coronation of the nominee.
Unless the convention goes off script. Which happened Tuesday.
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