You thought I meant the Democrats, didn't you?
Republicans rallied behind U.S. Senate nominee Bob Schaffer at their state convention Saturday but continued a surprisingly prolonged presidential tussle between Sen. John McCain and Rep. Ron Paul.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney flew in to speak for McCain, and party leaders and a number of El Paso County delegates said afterward that they believe Republicans will coalesce around presumptive nominee McCain. But it was clear from the multiple disruptions and public comments made by Paul supporters that the Democratic Party is not the only one with division in its ranks.
"As far as Colorado Republicans are concerned, we all will support McCain, but he's not our first choice," said Summer Vanderbilt, a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs student and alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention. "I think people will rally more strongly, they'll walk the precincts and work campaigns, depending on who his vice president is."[..]
Schaffer also took on his own party, saying it needed to change some of its ways to win over independents and moderate Democrats. Excessive spending and use of earmarks must go, and integrity must be central to all that he and other Republicans do, he said.
"If we are going to compete successfully against the Democrats, let's face it, we need to have a little bit of introspection and looking within our own party as well," he said. "We could sustain a little bit of reform."
Romney received cheers at the same decibel level as Schaffer when he told the 6,000-person crowd later that the differences between McCain and likely Democratic front-runner Sen. Barack Obama are very clear. He added that McCain has been "tested and proven" and that while the Arizona senator was not the first choice of Romney's supporters, he should be everyone's choice now.
But supporters of Paul showed during their speeches to become national-convention delegates that they still harbor deep divisions with the McCain campaign. One called McCain's time in office an "ignoble legislative career" and others blasted his stated goal to continue the war in Iraq, a goal which with the more libertarian Paul disagrees.