TAMPA, June 2, 2012 — Ron Paul may have stopped actively campaigning in primary states that have not yet voted, but his Revolution shows no sign of slowing down.
Just a few days after the media erroneously reported that Ron Paul had dropped out of the presidential race, he won 80% of the delegates going to the Republican National Convention (RNC) from Minnesota.
His supporters are now organizing a massive event on the eve of the RNC to celebrate their ideas and Paul’s 77th birthday. Not just a political rally, Paul Festival will be three days of music, entertainment and activism featuring nationally-known musicians, comedians and other entertainers.
It will also feature plenty of the ideas shared by those who make up what Paul’s supporters call “the liberty movement.”
Reminiscent of Paul’s Rally for the Republic during the RNC in 2008, the event may have the Republican Party concerned about being upstaged again. The 2008 event sold out the Target Center in Minneapolis.
This time, Paul’s supporters are attempting to secure the Florida State Fairgrounds, where they expect an estimated 40,000 people per day to attend. The Republican Party is trying to block them.
The RNC has first dibs on virtually every venue in Tampa during the week of the convention. Liberty Unleashed, the nonprofit group incorporated in Florida by Paul supporters, can only sign a contract for the fairgrounds with the agreement of the RNC Committee on Arrangements (COA).
It was reported locally in Tampa on May 23rd that both Paul Festival organizer Deborah Robinet and fairgrounds director of sales and marketing Terry Parnell expected to sign a contract that week. However, Robinet told supporters in an e-mail last night that the RNC “had blocked our attempt.”
According to the e-mail, Liberty Unleashed was told that the RNC has “other requests for the fairgrounds that we need to evaluate’ and ‘no, this isn’t first-come-first-served. Your event is not approved and it may take two more weeks.”
The COA is closed on weekends and could not be reached for comment.
The Republican Party’s apprehension over such an event is understandable. The RNC is supposed to be a three-day infomercial for the party that unites Republicans around their nominee for president. Yet, despite the media narrative that Mitt Romney secured the nomination after his Texas primary win, NPR reports that he still doesn’t have enough delegates bound to vote for him on the first ballot at the convention.
Worse yet, there are an undetermined number of delegates that are bound to him that are actually Paul supporters – and who would abandon him and vote for Paul if Romney failed to get 1,144 votes on the first ballot.
None of this is in the RNC script. Neither is a massive rally for the anti-establishment candidate going on at the same time. The party can’t even appeal to Paul to call it off. While Paul’s campaign organized the Rally in 2008 in an act of defiance against a party that had snubbed Paul and his supporters, neither he nor the campaign have anything to do with this one.
“Paul Festival is different,” says Robinet. “It is being organized by the grassroots with no help from the campaign. As unpaid volunteers, we are solely responsible for raising the money to make this happen.”
“Our goal is to honor the man, whom we feel is the Founding Father of our movement, his message, and all that his message encompasses. Dr. Paul’s 77th birthday is August 20th, just 4 days before the festival. We intend to have a birthday celebration the likes of which he’s never seen. People from all over the political spectrum will be there because he unites us all in his message of freedom for everyone.”
This is the kind of enthusiasm that the party’s nominee is supposed to generate, but it’s non-existent for Romney. Despite his primary successes, he’s hasn’t even been able to get his delegates seated in many states where he won the primary by a wide margin. It’s no secret that there is a strong anti-Romney undercurrent among traditional conservatives.
Certainly, no one will be organizing a “Romney Festival” anytime soon.
This puts the party in a difficult position. If they strong arm the Paul supporters by blocking their event, they risk losing their votes. If they acquiesce to allowing the event, their spin doctors will have to work overtime to keep the RNC from looking like an afterthought following a festival for the other guy ten times as large.
Whatever they decide, the 2012 RNC will not follow the usual script. The Ron Paul people just cannot seem to remember their lines.
But it’s going to be fun.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
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