Paul's Va. supporters voice dissent

TAMPA, Fla. - Rep. Ron Paul lost Virginia's Republican presidential primary last spring, but he still won 40 percent of the vote against Mitt Romney and Paul supporters who came to the party's national convention say that ought to count for something.

The convention, long on pageantry and short on any real political debate, is supposed to be Romney's coronation and that has the Paul folks irked.

"Could you imagine if in the 1970s they had the candidate's name on everything already," said Trevor Benson, who pointed to his Virginia delegate access pass with "Romney-Ryan" plastered on it even though, officially, neither Romney nor Rep. Paul Ryan have been named the party's nominees.

It's been decades since political conventions have harbored any real drama, and Paul supporters think that's a shame.

"A lot of people have the view that this is where we're supposed to have a conversation about ideas," said Leslie Jones, a delegate from Virginia Beach. "I'm going to this convention to listen to what is said. I don't want it to be a coronation."

Rove: Akin will be aching come November

TAMPA, Fla. - Republican political guru Karl Rove predicted Monday that Rep. Todd Akin, the Missouri Senate candidate who put the entire GOP on the defensive with offensive words about abortion and rape, is going to suffer the most humiliating election loss in modern times.

"I know Todd. He's a good man. He has a good heart," Rove told a gathering hosted by Politico at the Republican National Convention. "But he said a real stupid, indefensible thing from which there's no recovery."

Akin is running against Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republicans were hoping that an Akin victory would put them on track to take control of the Senate next year.

But then Akin publicly claimed that a "legitimate rape" victim could prevent herself from becoming pregnant. Top party officials from presidential contender Mitt Romney on down called on Akin to quit the race and yanked millions in funding for his campaign. Still, Akin refused to quit.

Rove is now predicting that Akin would lose to McCaskill by the widest margin in modern political history.

"What he said was indefensible," Rove said, "and the way he handled it made it worse."

Priebus calls Matthews "biggest jerk in the room"

TAMPA, Fla. - Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Monday declared MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews "the biggest jerk in the room" and said Matthews' network was nothing but a campaign surrogate for President Obama.

"This is the Barack Obama surrogate of 2012," Priebus told reporters just hours after Matthews claimed in an appearance with Priebus on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show that Republicans are "playing the race card" in the presidential race.

"It's an embarrassment to your party to play that card," Matthews told Priebus.

Despite the exchange of rhetorical blows, Priebus said he has no qualms about appearing again on MSNBC.

"If more than 10 people actually watched [Chris Matthews'] show," he said, "I would actually care. But they don't. So, whatever."

GOP counting on Virginia

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Virginia Republicans were reminded more than a few times Monday just how much the national party is depending on them this fall.

"Virginia is kind of a big deal," Virginia Victory Campaign Chairman Pete Snyder told the crowd of delegates attending the Republican National Convention. "There is not a path back to the White House for Republicans that does not include Virginia."

That was seconded by the surprise guests at the Virginia delegation's breakfast meeting, actor Jon Voight and Tagg Romney, the eldest son of GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney.

"[Virginia] is going to come down to the wire," Romney said. "It's going to be a swing state. It's going to be very close. It's probably going to be 51 percent to 49, or maybe 50.4 to 49.6. And we need you to get your neighbors out."

The Virginians said they're quite aware that everyone is counting on them.

"They were right on target," Charles Cunningham, an at-large delegate from Fairfax, said of all the speakers who stopped by the delegation meeting, packing reminders.