TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Rep. Ron Paul, the plucky GOP presidential candidate yet to get fully behind Mitt Romney, lashed out Sunday at Republican efforts to marginalize his supporters at the upcoming party convention, telling a counter rally to stand firm because “we will become the tent eventually.”
Appearing not far from where Romney will collect the Republican nomination, Paul used the rally to lecture a party he thinks is too willing to intervene abroad, too timid when it comes to combating a monetary policy he sees as misguided, and too lax about preserving civil liberties. His remarks were the perfect pitch to a friendly crowd of thousands, who stood the whole time he spoke.
“It made the paper in Washington that the revolution wasn’t happening,” the Texas Republican said. “Don’t they only wish.”
Paul ended active campaigning in June, but so far the libertarian-leaning politician hasn’t endorsed Romney’s candidacy. He told The New York Times for a story Sunday that he was denied a chance to speak because he refused to let the Romney campaign vet his remarks and give an unconditional endorsement.
In contrast to the stately scenery inside the Republican convention arena, the Paul rally had all the trappings of a rock concert: fog lamps, sweeping beams of colorful lights, music thumping with bass, free-flowing tap beer. Blues Traveler frontman John Popper performed ahead of Paul’s remarks.
The University of South Florida college basketball arena was hardly full, but boisterous Paul fans erupted most times he was mentioned and wore shirts with his name and image; one shirt read “My President is Paul” and another said “Let Ron Paul Speak.”
Paul joked that he was given a speaking slot on Monday night — when Tropical Storm Isaac was causing the GOP to postpone activities. “Just kidding,” he assured.
He didn’t win a single state but still amassed more than 175 delegates to the convention, several of whom got a standing ovation when they were introduced as a group at the Paul rally. On stage and among the audience, Paul backers chafed at the idea that their presence in Florida was an unwanted distraction at a convention focused on saluting Romney.
Paul’s coalition is made up of anti-war Republicans, people who want stricter government adherence to the Constitution and those who want to dismantle the Federal Reserve, which sets American monetary policy.
His devoted following has caused strains in the convention lead-up. Late last week, Republican convention rule-makers advanced measures designed to blunt the Paul presence, including votes to dull the strength of his contingent in the Maine delegation and another to make it tougher for similar candidates to follow his path in the future.
Ashley Ryan, the young new Republican committeewoman from Maine, said procedural moves viewed as minimizing Paul’s supporters would backfire on the GOP.
“Our party will go from being a big tent with many ideas to a small group at the mercy of a few insiders,” Ryan said.
Paul carried on with the theme. “”Believe me, we will get in the tent because we will become the tent eventually,” he said, adding, “With the energy that we have. It seems to me they would be begging and pleading for us to come into the party.”
Tropical Storm Isaac disrupted the GOP schedule, yet planners retained a video tribute to Paul and a speaking role for his son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, moving both to Wednesday night between 7 and 8 p.m.
Doug Wead, an author and former adviser to both Bush presidents, drew loud applause when he described the congressman as “a clean boat in a sea of garbage.” Throughout the day, Paul was held up as a beacon of ideological purity.
Paul, 77, is leaving Congress after his 12th term expires at year’s end. But some hope he’ll make a fourth run at the White House. He has run the past two election cycles as a Republican and ran once before as a candidate for the Libertarian Party.
Said Austrian School economist Walter Block: “It’s true Ron will be 80 in 2016, but he’s a young 80.”
At one point during the five-hour rally, the audience broke into chants of “Paul ’16″ — but they were referring to Rand Paul, not his father.
More Related Stories
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
- Murkowski: Palin too disengaged to run for Senate
- In IRS scandal, new GOP tactic is ignorance
- Code Pink activist berates Obama at national security speech
- Cuomo: "Shame on us" if New York City elects Weiner
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11