Convention hall turns rowdy during votes on procedural rules

TAMPA, Fla. — Delegates to the GOP convention in Tampa spent a few minutes in loud discord after the convention adopted two reports that seemed to split the gathering nearly evenly.

Mike Duncan, the chairman of the convention committee, quickly outlined the report from the Committee on Credentials, while former Gov. John Sununu (N.H.) discussed the one from the Committee on Rules. Both called for voice votes to adopt the reports.

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In both cases, the requests were met with loud boos, and when the yeas and nays were asked for, there appeared to be an equal amount of both. Nonetheless, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus said the "ayes" have it on the credentials, which led to more booing and chanting.

Some of the chanting appeared to be "seat them now," while others cheered back "USA."

When Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) moved to adopt the rules by a voice vote of ayes and nays, scattered boos and chants of "Seat them now!" and "Point of order!" erupted in the hall. 

The ayes and nays appeared evenly split, but Boehner declared, "In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it." 

Opponents of the rules motion booed loudly, and Boehner was forced to shout his introduction of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to move the convention forward.

The split on the procedural votes was an apparent reflection of the disapproval that supporters of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) have with the GOP’s convention rules. The Republican Party was thought to be planning rule changes that would have made it harder for libertarian-leaning Republicans to get delegates to future conventions.

Paul supporters told The Hill the booing, and the “seat them now” chant, was in response to the RNC’s decision to take away some of their delegates from Maine. 

Earlier this summer, the RNC determined that Maine’s delegate selection process was plagued by fraud and mistakes, and gave 10 of the 20 delegates that had been awarded to Paul to Romney. That decision gave Romney the majority of the state’s delegates.

Stavros Mendros, a Paul delegate from Maine, said he was dismayed by party leaders' decision not to seat the delegates initially chosen.

"It's disappointing but not very surprising," he said. "It's unfortunate a few sore losers from Maine filed the complaint."

Jan Staples, a Romney delegate from Maine who filed the complaint that led to Paul delegates being disqualified, said: "The decision that was made and the process we went through was appropriate.

"The [state] convention was riddled with problems," she added.

One Paul supporter said he had originally been a delegate from Maine, only to have it taken from him. 

“What happened down there [on the floor] was not democracy," said Sam Canders, who described himself as a 13-year military veteran.

—This story has been updated.

Russell Berman, Alexander Bolton and Niall Stanage contributed.

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