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Republican Paul suspends run for president

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul’s suspension of his campaign Thursday could cost his supporters in Idaho delegate slots at the national convention.

But Paul’s Inland Northwest supporters say they weren’t surprised by his announcement and plan to support the principles the Texas congressman stressed.

“It’s a tactical move to keep hearts and minds of the people going to reinvent our government,” Don Harkins, of Spirit Lake, said Thursday of Paul’s decision. Harkins is a Paul supporter working as a volunteer at the Idaho GOP convention in Sandpoint.

Mike Cathcart, a Spokane resident who was active in the Paul campaign, agreed. “It’s not going to deter us or stop us at all,” he said.

The announcement may keep Paul’s Idaho supporters attending the state GOP convention in Sandpoint from winning seats to the Republican National Convention in September.

Idaho state GOP Chairman Kirk Sullivan said he believes state party rules don’t allow national delegates to represent candidates who have left the race. The fact that Paul has suspended his campaign, rather than withdrawing, probably doesn’t make a difference, Sullivan said, but he planned to review the rules Thursday night and have a final decision today.

“I’m going to run this (convention) by the rules,” said Sullivan, who is battling to retain the party chairmanship at the convention, being held at the Bonner County Fairgrounds through Saturday.

Cathcart was elected an alternate to the national convention from Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District during that state’s convention two weeks ago in Spokane. At that gathering, Paul’s supporters formed a significant bloc of delegates and sometimes clashed with delegates of Arizona Sen. John McCain and others who supported presidential candidates who dropped out earlier in the campaign. Paul won four delegates and six alternates to the national convention, but McCain won the lion’s share of those delegates and alternates.

Cathcart doesn’t think many Paul supporters will vote for McCain, the party’s presumptive nominee, for president. Some will vote for Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, others for Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, and others may write in Paul’s name.

“I haven’t made up my mind,” Cathcart said of his plans for November. “I could not vote for McCain.”

But Cathcart and Rob Chase, another leader in the Paul campaign in Spokane, said they plan to stay active in the Republican Party, in an effort to shift the party toward Paul’s conservative principles.

“I think most (Paul supporters) are going to stay with it, become precinct officers and try to transform the party,” Chase said.

Said Cathcart: “We’re absolutely going to reform the Republican Party.”