Ron Paul (Cliff Owen/AP)
Ron Paul is not suspending his presidential campaign. That's the message his staff pushed Tuesday following the candidate's declaration that he won't spend any additional funds to campaign in new states.
But campaign manager Jesse Benton clearly stated that the hopes of Paul winning the Republican presidential nomination are officially over.
"We recognize that Gov. [Mitt] Romney has what is very likely to be an insurmountable delegate lead," Benton told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. "And we acknowledge that we're very, very unlikely to be able to block that nomination."
The campaign followed a delegate strategy that would have put it in a "good position" to influence the outcome, should there be a brokered convention, said Benton. But "unfortunately, other candidates were not able to maintain their strength."
Other than Paul and Romney, every major Republican running for president has suspended his campaign, given Romney's strong delegate lead. Romney currently claims 973 delegates, according to the Associated Press, and he needs 1,144 total delegates to seal the nomination. Paul has 104 delegates and has won a majority of delegates in just one state thus far: Maine.
But winning the nomination is not the campaign's goal, Benton stressed. Rather, amassing delegates and influencing the nominating process continues to be the focus.
"We still have very, very strong things that we can accomplish by continuing this campaign," Benton said.
Paul will continue to lobby for speaking roles at state conventions and other events, and will continue to actively campaign (all without spending more money). The next stop is Minnesota, where the campaign believes it can win a majority of support at this weekend's state convention. Benton mentioned Washington, Missouri, Louisiana and Iowa as other states where he believes Paul can end up with a majority of support.
The campaign says it will be able to count on "several hundred more" delegates bound to Romney at this summer's national convention—noting that those delegates are obliged only for the first round of voting.
But Benton stressed repeatedly that the campaign will be emphasizing "decorum and respect" among Paul's delegates, noting that "our supporters are going to get an excessive amount of blame for problems that arise in heated moments at conventions."
The campaign has been in talks with Romney's team regarding party platform, but an endorsement of Romney is not guaranteed, said Benton. "I would never say never,"he said, but added, "I do not believe that that is likely." He sharply ruled out a Paul endorsement for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson. There's "no chance of that."
Expect Paul to continue promoting a platform of government transparency, federal accountability, monetary reform, prohibitions on definite detention and Internet freedom, said Benton.
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