Ron, Rand and Rowdy Occupiers

I was surprised last week, when I received an e-mail from Dave Gallagher, Romney Field Director for the state of Nevada, in which he said, “I wanted to bring attention to the U.S. Rep. Ron Paul tribute video that is being shown at the Republican National Convention next Tuesday night. The Ron Paul campaign approached the Mitt Romney campaign with the video, and the Romney campaign was happy to air it to the entire convention.” He then went on to quote another campaign adviser, “Gov. Romney and Congressman Paul, while they certainly disagree on many issues, but if you watched the debates this year, you have seen a lot of mutual respect between the two of them.

This raised the question, did Paul’s campaign truly approach the RNC? Ron Paul has never been known to curry favor with anyone. Last night on the national convention floor, Paul campaign adviser Doug Wead, told me personally, “The RNC approached Paul for the video.”

Why is it important to know who approached whom? Because most feel that in the two weeks of this convention, the former filled with meetings whose results have divided the party (some think beyond repair), and a convention where a goodly portion of delegates were disenfranchised, that the video was a goodwill gesture that could mend fences. But that dog just won’t hunt with the Paul crowd, as well as republicans who look kindly upon the liberty delegates for the Constitutional conservativism they have brought to the party. A mere video of Dr. Paul could not undo the damage.

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The Tampa Bay Times forum was almost full Wednesday night, when the convention opened with a four minute tribute to Ron Paul. His liberty delegates stood during the video, and called out his name when the image of a long, lonely road, winding towards a distant light, filled the jumbotrons, and myriad of screens around the hall.

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The video, an edit done from the introductory documentary shown at Paul’s festival at Tampa’s Sundome last Sunday, was expertly done. It included the charming story told by his wife Carol, of his original reasons for entering into politics, taking an absence from his practice as an OB/GYN. It then segued to tributes from Senator Mitch McConnell, who opined about members of Congress, “They’re either here to make a point, or here to make a difference. Ron Paul has made a difference.” Senator Mike Lee and Congressmen Jimmy Duncan, Justin Amash, and Walter Jones contributed glowing remarks. Jim DeMint added, “He’s not afraid of anything and standing for what is right” Paul’s son, Senator Rand Paul remarked, “The lobbyists don’t even come by his office.”

When the lights came up, Paulists roared their approval, many held Ron Paul signs aloft, myself included. But, as had happened yesterday, we had our signs taken away from us by the RNC’s floor gestapo. Right across the aisle from my Nevada delegation, sat Kentucky. They were all equipped with favorite son Rand’s signs, which were entirely approved on the floor, but not his fathers’. So sad, to have that sanction, for a man whom many felt was the better candidate, and who could bring our country together and save it economically, and in every other way, just by following our Constitution.

While Ron Paul’s video was enthusiastically received by over half of the convention, his son Rand was greeted with almost manic applause. It was almost as if relief swept over the delegation that they’d gotten the “elephant” out of the room, and now a sigh of relief could be made. Son = Good, while Dad = Bad.

Liberty delegates didn’t stand for Rand as they did for his father. They listened, but as I said to a reporter, “When Ron Paul speaks, whether you like him or not, he evokes a response.” Rand was just another speaker in the RNC’s line-up of political celebrities to fill convention time. In actuality, delegates are just stand-ins to fill the hall in the RNC’s scripted convention, as the corrupt rules changes that were passed this week proved.

Even Rand’s father and mother weren’t there in the hall to hear their son’s speech. They’d departed for Texas a day ago, but were stopped on the tarmac when their private plane was delayed by an extensive TSA search. Things actually got quite tense, as the search was endangering Carol Paul, who wears a pacemaker. It was ironic, that Paul, an outspoken opponent of the TSA, and severely criticized the group in his Tampa festival speech, received this treatment.

During the newspaper interview I did after Rand’s speech, I’d also expressed my disappointment that Rand had not referenced his father more completely. I feel, as many do, that Rand owes his meteoric political success to the supporters of his father, who were dismayed when he endorsed Romney months ago. An hour later, in talking with a Texas liberty delegate, I learned that on the plane to Tampa, Rand had told a fellow passenger that he had agreed to the RNC’s orders not to say, “Ron Paul,” or “my father,” in his speech. He joked that they hadn’t told him that he couldn’t say, “Congressman from Texas,” or “My sons’ grandfather, so that’s how I’m going to do my little dig at the RNC ‘cause they didn’t say I couldn’t say those things.”

Whether you think Rand just shouldn’t have taken the speaking slot, rather than agreeing to not make outright references to his father, most would agree that the stipulations made by the RNC are simply idiotic and disrespectful to the son of the esteemed Congressman from Texas, Ron Paul. My feelings about Rand going light on his father in his speech changed after that.

After Rand’s speech, we had no reason to stay at the convention, and I gave my delegate badge to our party Secretary, so he could pass it on to a delegate, who would then be allowed access to the floor. Nevada’s delegation is a sharply divided camp now of those who think we committed a travesty with our nominating votes for Paul, and others who think we struck a note for being able to vote one’s conscience, which is supported by an RNC rule (which will probably be changed in short order, or made moot by the new rules for delegate selection).

After Rand spoke and I was visiting with other delegates on the floor, I heard a commotion upstairs on the mezzanine. Was there a demonstration? It was hard to tell, and the stairs leading up were packed with traffic. There was no way to get up there quickly. Later I learned that Maine’s delegation had staged a demonstration, and made a complete circuit of the convention center chanting, “So goes Maine, So goes the Country!” The Credentials Committee had ruled last Saturday, that the decision by the state party’s executive committee to replace half of their duly elected delegation with hand picked delegates did not violate any rules, and had allowed these “picked” delegates seating. Maine will be remembered.

Even at 11pm, Tampa is muggy and hot. We were tired, and our feet sore as we walked the many blocks to where our car was parked outside the perimeter. National Guard, and security of every stripe are en masse everywhere. A group of heavily armed troops passed us, and the call, “Watch your back!” echoed through them. We looked around – nothing. Rounding a corner, the street suddenly went quiet. There’s very little vehicular traffic in the perimeter area, but it’s still noisy. There was a rush, kind of like what you feel before an earthquake, and a wave of reporters, photographers and other media came running backwards towards us. Behind them was a tangle of 1% signs and Occupy Tampa protesters. With drums banging, and bullhorns blaring they raged about Romney, tax cheaters, the war, and the rich who were running our country. But what were their solutions? I heard none.

As they paused in the middle of the intersection, surrounded by over a hundred security on foot, bicycles and horseback, I stepped into their midst and started talking about freedom, liberty, sound money and Ron Paul. They objected and told me this was their protest and I couldn’t talk about Ron Paul. He was a republican, they spat. I countered that this as a public street, and that they would not step on my First Amendment right. What started as a verbal altercation, began to evolve into a dialogue, and even though my voice was hoarse from shouting so much in the hall, it was still able to carry to everyone on that street. Still, the Occupy leader did not want to hear anything that had to do with the Republican party in a positive way. He ordered his crew to lay on the street, which I guess was some kind of power move, but to me was ridiculous. I extolled them,

“Get up! Don’t let society step on you! If all of you had registered Republican and voted for Ron Paul in your primary or caucus, we’d be nominating him in that hall this week, and ending the wars, ending the IRS, ending the Fed, having sound money, and instead, Mitt Romney is getting the nomination!”

Occupy thought that was the most absurd thing they’d ever heard, and responded, “How?”

I gave the short version of how we’d taken over the Republican Party in Nevada, and how they could do the same in their own state. How elections are decided by small percentages, and that trying to accomplish their goals through a third party was next to impossible.” Believe it or not, they listened. Security asked them to move on, and I extended my hand to their leader, “No harm, no foul?” He took my hand and pulled me into a hug.”Come with us!” I demurred and said I had places to go and no car of my own.

Around us, the bike and mounted police actually smiled, and with a wave, I called, “Happy Trails” to the police on horseback. They responded, “Good bye, Cynthia!” I guess someone had read my name badge and transmitted the information to them.

We continued our walk to our car, but once again marveled that every day at this convention has been filled with surprises. What’s not a surprise, is that the message of liberty is popular – with everyone.

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