By Mark Waite
A Pahrump delegate to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Pat Kerby, was pictured on national television on the C-SPAN network last week, arguing for amending a plank in the Republican platform on the Defense of Marriage Act.
“I understand how much we appreciate the family and marriage, but continuing the discussion that I believe the Republicans should promote that everyone is treated equally under the law, I would like to strike the sentence ‘and promote through laws governing marriage,’” Kerby said.
The professed Libertarian was unsuccessful with his amendment, a Louisiana delegate felt it would support amendments defining marriage as between a man and woman in 30 states. Another southern delegate talked about the crisis of no-fault divorce leaving mothers and children destitute.
“There were a lot of people who would be Republicans but for that issue,” Kerby said afterwards. “They want to regulate people’s private lives.”
Kerby still felt his service on the platform committee was a success — he got language inserted about a paper backup for electronic voting machines and helped another delegate write a statement opposing registration of ammunition and firearms. He failed in his attempts to introduce language on the National Defense Authorization Act and on raw milk.
In an interview with the Pahrump Valley Times he said his enthusiasm for the political convention in Tampa ended there, however.
“That is the only part of this that even has the illusion of a real debate. The rest of this is a big TV show and a foregone conclusion to what’s happening. The delegates, their only reason to be here is to applaud and cheer,” Kerby said.
A supporter of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., who introduced the presidential candidate during an appearance at Skate Zone in Pahrump, Kerby said convention officials at the last minute changed the rules requiring delegates from eight states to nominate Paul instead of five. Paul delegates submitted nomination forms from six states, but the convention secretary rejected them, Kerby said.
That came after the Republican National Committee negated the Maine delegation, a state where Paul won all the delegates, he said.
“The RNC negated that whole delegation, so all of the people who were duly elected delegates in Maine — and these are hard-working, liberty-minded representatives that the Republican Party should be tripping over to join their party — they just thew them out and replaced them with people selected by the Romney campaign. That seems to be the theme here, the Romney campaign is so afraid of any open debate, they’ve done everything they can to crush it,” Kerby said.
When there were votes on accepting the rules, the no votes clearly were in the majority on some issues, but Kerby said party leaders still said the measures passed.
“So they just shoved the new rules down our throats. So we’ve just seen this kind of steamroller. So just as the only protest left to us, those of us who were bound for Romney voted for Ron Paul,” Kerby said.
Twenty Nevada delegates were supposed to cast their votes for Romney and eight for Paul. As it ended up, Kerby, who was supposed to vote for Romney, voted instead for Paul, along with 16 other members of the Nevada delegation. There were five abstentions and five voted for Romney.
“It was just kind of a rule by our state executive board they put in place last October and we broke it. I don’t feel good about that. It was an emotional decision. I preach all the time about rules and following the rules and fair play, it just got to be a situation where they were changing the rules at the last minute and cheating so badly, I felt that was the only protest left to me,” Kerby said.
He described it as violating the rules of a private club, which is how the Nevada Secretary of State described it if someone complained about voter fraud in the Republican caucuses.
In 2016, Kerby said results of the caucuses and primaries will be binding, delegates will be bound to follow the state vote. Romney won 50 percent of the state vote in the Republican caucus, Paul won 18.7 percent, though he carried Nye County.
Kerby said he would’ve cast his vote for Romney if the rules hadn’t been changed. He said the convention was over this week, as far as he was concerned, it’s just a television show with no grass roots role.
It was a far cry from conventions in years past, when television audiences saw delegates wearing straw hats standing next to the tall, skinny pole with the name of their states, shouting out the votes for their nominee, who wasn’t decided until the convention. The vice-presidential pick also wasn’t announced until the convention.
Kerby said now the whole convention is very scripted. Romney won the nomination well before the event last February. At the convention Romney clinched the nomination with 1,144 votes when the New Jersey delegation voted right after Nevada.
Former Nevada Gov. Bob List, a vice-chairman of the Republican National Convention, criticized the move.
“I think that what they did on the floor, I think they made fools of themselves. I think the record ultimately will show the votes cast in accordance with the law, which is 20 for Romney and eight for Paul. I think they really betrayed the people of Nevada who worked in these caucuses and voted and participated. It was just foolish, just a juvenile stunt,” List said.
It was a foregone conclusion Republicans were going to nominate Romney, he said, the other presidential candidates like former U.S. Rep. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and businessman Herman Cain all withdrew their delegates and endorsed Romney in speeches at the convention.
“Ron Paul never came to that point, even though it’s been very, very clear for months and months and months that he couldn’t win, he still kind of doggedly went along,” List said.
He said the last time there was a close convention, where it wasn’t obvious going in who had the votes to be nominated, was in Kansas City in 1976 between Harold Ford and Ronald Reagan.
“It is to a large extent a televison production,” List said, estimating 40 million people watched Romney’s acceptance speech. “That has a positive result because most of the people, 99 percent of the people at this convention, will go home totally fired up, enthusiastic and ready to work hard for the next 68 days to get Romney elected.”
It’s also educational, not only for the delegates but the American public, to learn about the policies of the candidates, he said.
Kerby said he still enjoyed the platform committee meetings.
“The platform is very good. I was very pleased with how the platform turned out. We finished all the debates and I felt like I got listened to and was treated with respect and I got to the end and said, ‘oh crap, it’s just a platform and no one cares,’ ” Kerby said.
The other Nye County delegates included Lisa Marie Johnson, Kenny Bent and Harold Reyanard, Kerby said all voted for Paul.
It rained for the first few days, but the passing Tropical Storm Isaac didn’t cause any driving wind or rain, Kerby said, describing it as more of a non-event. There were protesters in front of the Doubletree Inn near the Tampa International Airport, where Nevada delegates stayed and those from Pennsylvania, there were also protesters on the outside of the perimeter of the convention site, he said.
“But once you get inside the perimeter it’s totally locked down,” Kerby said.
The convention was also about making connections with delegations from other states, he said, like a Wednesday morning breakfast sponsored by the Iowa Republican Party with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the presidential candidate’s son.
Kerby said Ron Paul wasn’t speaking at the convention, but Rand Paul spoke Wednesday night. They did show a video of Ron Paul.
“He was able to walk around on the floor and greet a bunch of delegates yesterday, that was a big step up from 2008 when they pretended he didn’t exist,” Kerby said of Ron Paul. “He got kind of a rock star reception there.”