For the Paul crowd, the other convention

MINNEAPOLIS — Ron Paul has no plan to set foot in the Republican National Convention in nearby St. Paul. If he tried, he said, party officials told him that he would have to be chaperoned.

So the presidential candidate and 10-term congressman from Texas held his own party, a nine-hour “Rally for the Republic” that amounted to a one-day counter-convention Tuesday.

As many as 12,000 disillusioned Republicans and independents, according to organizers, converged on the Target Center for a boisterous and energetic push-back against the Republican establishment.

In a lively speech, Paul thanked his supporters for their campaign help and asked them to keep up the fight.

“They will not welcome us with open arms, I found that out,” he said. “There is a vacuum out there, and it’s not in one political party; it’s pervasive.”

“This is much bigger than the Republican Party. … In a true revolution, believe me, the revolution does not occur within a single party.”

Paul, 73, railed against issues important to his libertarian base, including his opposition to the Patriot Act and his call for the elimination of the Federal Reserve. “End the Fed,” the crowd chanted after he discussed monetary policy.

“I understand there’s another meeting going on in a nearby town,” he said, criticizing the GOP for bending its rules to exclude him.

Republicans denied his claim. Joanna Burgos, a convention spokesperson, said he received the same invitation as any other member of Congress.

“We actually never heard back from him,” she said. “He never confirmed his attendance.”

Paul raised more than $34 million for his campaign and broke a record for the most money raised by a candidate online in a single day. He won more than 5 percent of all Republican primary vote, and he outperformed presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain in Nevada and Montana.

But he did not endear himself to mainstream Republicans. An outspoken opponent of America’s military presence abroad, especially in Iraq, he holds a long list of views at odds with McCain’s, including calling for withdrawal from the United Nations.

Paul and his supporters also speak in terms of a “revolution,” and many of his fellow revolutionaries joined him in the Twin Cities. “Ronvoys” allowed people to connect over the Internet and carpool from around the country. To create the feel of a convention, placards for each state were distributed around the floor, and confetti came down from above when Paul took the stage.

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