Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has decided to stage his own rally on the day before the GOP national convention begins in Tampa.
This means there will be three events designed to celebrate Paul's campaign or libertarian principles in the run-up to the Republican convention: Paul's event on August 26, which his aides say he will attend; a "Ron Paul Festival" is being organized by supporters, and a third festival designed to celebrate libertarian ideals.
The exact locations of the three events have yet to be been determined, in part because the Republican National Committee has reserved about 70 of the major venues in the Tampa area and the RNC has yet to decide how those spaces will be used or whether to allocate space to the Ron Paul crowd.
Paul told MSNBC Wednesday that his goal at the convention is to show that his ideas have widespread appeal. He conceded he won't be the nominee, but added: "If I'm not going to be the nominee, the goal is to show that there's a political benefit toward accepting some of the views that we have. All I want to do, if I don't get a speech on the floor in the convention, all I want to do is have a meeting and say, 'Look, we have numbers, we have people, we have enthusiasm, we believe in something. Why don't you pay a little attention?' And actually I think they are. They don't know quite how to handle it."
Paul said the Republican party "has lost its way--I think a long time ago. I can't see the difference" between President Obama and former President George W. Bush.
Paul also said, "They're both very militaristic, interventionist, pro-war...Do Republicans really stop welfare expansion? No. Do they really cut back and balance the budget? No. They usually introduce bigger budgets."
Some GOP veterans are concerned that Paul supporters, who are among the most dedicated of any group of activists this year, might show up at the convention in an angry mood and disrupt the proceedings. Another concern is that, while Paul is too far behind to win the presidential nomination, his forces may have enough delegate strength to force their views into the GOP platform or embarrass Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Paul hasn't endorsed Romney so far.
Paul has developed a strong following by advocating libertarian ideas, such as drastically cutting the power and spending of the federal government. Paul also supports the withdrawal of U.S. troops from many areas around the world, and he has criticized U.S. intervention in the affairs of other countries.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.