Every single election, the Republicans make the same sales pitch to independent libertarian voters: this election is so critical, support us in this, and maybe later once the enemy is defeated we can maybe support issues that are important to you.
It is an offer that will never be reciprocated. In the odd even that a Libertarian candidate is the stronger candidate, the Republican Party has no intention of ever supporting that candidate. Although Massachusetts senate races are usually decided by a 2-1 ratio in favor of the Democrat candidate, in 2002 when there was no Republican candidate the Libertarian candidate only received 18% of the vote. There is no evidence of Republican support.
Progressives like to make rhetorical use of the alleged sympathy between libertarians and conservatives, and one of their few offered proofs is Ron Paul and his election to the House of Representatives as a Republican instead of as a Libertarian or Democrat. The treatment of Representative Paul by the Republican Party should be sufficient disproof of that point, but facts do not interfere with that rhetorical usage.
Further disproof of that sympathy is shown by the upcoming Iowa caucus. The Republican Party leadership has come out strongly against Ron Paul winning that caucus, to the point where they have threatened to strip Iowa of their "first in the nation" status if Paul wins, and have even moved the counting over alleged threats from Occupy.
If Representative Paul does win Iowa, the threats are there for the whole Republican establishment to come out and attack him. It is unknown what will happen if Representative Paul manages to pick up a majority of delegates, although it does appear they have a plan in place to discount the effect of all delegates from early states.
If the nomination is actually stolen from Representative Paul, if it is given to Mitt Romney, that would be an absolute proof that the "big tent" ceased to exist years ago and that the whole "Libertarian Republican" meme is nothing but a charade designed to fool libertarians into wasting their votes with Republicans and to give rhetorical ammunition to progressives.
If the Republicans want to keep up the sales pitch to libertarians, they have to allow Representative Paul to win. The alternative is to stop pretending there is a big tent, to stop pretending that there is anything in common between libertarianism and the Republican Party, and to lose the race by losing Ron Paul. If the Republican Party wants a future, they must choose Ron Paul.