Ron Paul devotees gather for convention of their own
Activists to rally around pro-civil liberties ideals
WASHINGTON – There’s no room at the Xcel Energy Center for maverick Ron Paul, so his acolytes have packed their cars, hitched rides on “Ronvoys” and will pitch tents at Ronstock ’08 in defiance of this week’s GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.
Almost 9,800 tickets had been sold for the Rally for the Republic, being held in Minneapolis, which seeks to bring together activists who are anti-war, anti-government regulation, anti-immigration, anti-taxes, anti-Federal Reserve, anti-outsourcing, pro-individual liberty, pro-civil liberties and pro-Paul.
The Ronvoys – fleets of buses and vans carrying Paul’s loyalists – were to begin arriving Saturday. A few rally-goers planned to walk from Green Bay, Wis., and join up with Paul for the final miles of their Walk4Freedom. Other attendees are driving, carpooling or flying in for the convention alternative.
Paul, a Texas congressman who failed in a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, considers the rally a celebration of traditional Republican values of limited government – and a poke in the eye of the GOP. They don’t plan to crash the Republican party, but to show they and their Campaign for Liberty are not going away.
“No matter how much our message is ignored or ridiculed, as was done in the campaign, no matter how much they did to us, it only energized our grass roots,” Paul said.
The rally builds on Paul’s presidential bid, in which he set a record for single-day fundraising on the Web and touched a nerve with some disaffected voters, largely in the Republican Party.
In a few Western states, Paul was a serious contender for votes, placing second ahead of Republican John McCain in Nevada and Montana. He drew 14 percent from McCain in New Mexico, a battleground state.
But Paul has no speaking role at the GOP convention. He said his staff made overtures to the party, but nothing came of the efforts.
Paul’s faithful still hope to permeate the ranks of the establishment by winning local and state races and pulling in disenchanted party members. There are a couple dozen Paul delegates attending the GOP convention, though some loyalists say there are more delegates who support Paul.
Meanwhile, their focus is on their own political convergence in Minneapolis.
Speakers at the Paul rally include former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, tax activist Grover Norquist, former California Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr., political commentator Tucker Carlson, former two-term New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and the baby-delivering doctor supporters call Dr. Paul.
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