Ron Paul planning parallel convention to send GOP a 'strong message' in Minneapolis
After being denied a speaking slot at the Republican convention this summer, former candidate Rep. Ron Paul, who is not supporting GOP nominee John McCain, has decided to stage his own parallel convention in Minneapolis.
"There is a growing surge of people out there just craving" for a return "to traditional American government, limited government that places personal liberty first and places an emphasis on personal responsibility and essentially gets out of the way after that," Paul spokesman Jesse Benton told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. "The buzz we get from supporters is that they are very eager to come to St. Paul and very eager to send a strong message."
After being initially viewed as little more than a gadfly's revolt, Paul's campaign picked up substantial steam during the GOP primaries, when the libertarian leaning Texan raised about $35 million almost entirely online and garnered more than a million votes. Paul's secured at least 35 convention delegates, but Republican party big-wigs are denying him a speaking slot.
The Tribune-Review has the details on Paul's parallel convention:
Maverick GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has booked an arena in Minneapolis for a "mini-convention" that could steal some of John McCain's thunder just days before he accepts the Republican nomination.
A Paul campaign aide said the Texas congressman hopes to pack about 11,000 supporters into the Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota on Sept. 2, which coincides with the second day of the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center in neighboring St. Paul.
Benton tells MSNBC that Paul's decision to hold his own convention is about more than just not getting a speaking slot at the GOP's main shindig.
Paul's supporters are really "looking to build a national organization that is going to run at a grassroots level, be organized at a precinct level, and to identify candidates to support," Benton said, "real constitutionalist candidates."
Paul camp expects to have about 50 delegates to the national convention. They will attend the Paul convention and the campaign is encouraging them to go to the official GOP convention as "active and positive." But, Benton added, Paul's supporters are independent-minded and aren't going to be told what to do.
There's some evidence that Paul's influence is beginning to stretch beyond the presidential race already. Libertarian magazine Reason recently profiled several "Ron Paul Republicans" who are seeking congressional seats in House races across the country this year.