By Teresa Welsh |
The Republican National Convention will take place next week in Tampa, and the party is preparing to rally around and formally nominate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his newly announced running mate Wisconsin Rep, Paul Ryan. The RNC has been releasing the list of party members who will be having speaking roles at the convention, and one high-profile name is notably absent: Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
The libertarian ended his official campaign for president but continued amassing delegates at caucuses around the country even after it became clear he would not earn enough to rival Romney. Paul supporters say he energizes the party base in a way Romney has been unable to do, because he represents true conservative values. Paul speaks out about reducing the size of government, slashing the federal deficit, and not raising taxes. He has also been popular with young voters, who are the future of the party. Paul's son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, will be speaking, but supporters of the elder Paul say his contributions to the party make him deserving of a speech before he is set to retire next year.
Others say that Paul serves only as a distraction from Romney, something they cannot afford in what is sure to be a close election against President Barack Obama. Paul supporters are seen as a fringe faction of the Republican Party, and have been known to disrupt party caucuses in attempt to make their views heard. The party establishment says they must fully unite behind Romney if he has a chance of beating Obama, and pulling Paul's opinions into the fold—particularly those that defy his party's official platform—prevents them from achieving this end.
Brian Doherty Senior Editor of Reason magazine and Reason.com
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Stephanie Slade Project Director at The Winston Group
Judson Phillips Founder of Tea Party Nation