OVER 10,000 RON PAUL SUPPORTERS "RALLY FOR THE REPUBLIC" IN MINNEAPOLIS
By Sarah Foster
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
September 5, 2008
MINNEAPOLIS - If the Republican leadership thought that marginalizing Rep. Ron Paul and ignoring his message of personal liberty and limited government would shut him up and make him go away, they sure figured wrong.
"There is room now for the defense of liberty, and the people know that the system we have is not working," Paul told an estimated crowd of 12,000 cheering supporters Tuesday evening at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. "It is not working economically, it is not working monetarily, our foreign policy is not working and therefore they're looking for answers."
No doubt about it The Texas congressman, who had campaigned for the GOP presidential nomination in defiance of the party's national committee and the roadblocks it set up was back - though in fact, he'd never gone away. And he wasn't alone. With him were thousands of supporters -- many, if not most of them young -- cheering him on, roaring approval when he called for a return to sound money and the gold standard, and chanting FREEDOM, FREEDOM, FREEDOM - and NO ID, NO ID, No ID (referring to the much hated National ID System).
In his hour-long address, Paul hit all the bases, talking about matters that most politicians choose to ignore: the need to scale back the federal bureaucracy, the need to preserve and defend individual rights, and an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He decried a foreign policy he said has made the country less safe and created enemies abroad, and warned against a likely reinstatement of the draft, and advocated civil disobedience if this happens. His biggest applause seemed to come when he called for an end to the Federal Reserve System, the National ID, and the so-called War on Drugs.
Paul remarked that essentially the Republic is "lost" though "it may be hanging by a thread." "That's why I claim that we have a sense of urgency here. We don't have decades and decades. We have to do something rather quickly," he said.
It was a bleak picture he painted, but Paul's message overall was upbeat and heartening, especially his closing words:
"An idea whose time has come can't be stopped by any army, any government," he said. "Even if they try they can't stop us. "we're talking about millions of people in this country and around the world who heard this message and it's growing. They can't stop us."
It was the speech the audience had been waiting for - the culmination of a 10-hour marathon of speeches and entertainment that closed the three-day Rally for the Republic that began Sunday and overlapped the first two days of the Republican convention. Many in the audience had traveled hundreds of miles for the event.
Over Labor Day weekend, while the mainstream media focused on Hurricane Gustav and tried to get interested in what one reporter called the 'snorefest' at the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., thousands of Paul's supporters and their allies from across the nation converged on the Twin Cities to attend the "other convention" - the Rally for the Republic, a counter event held 10 miles away at venues in Minneapolis, and sponsored by Paul's Campaign for Liberty that was formally launched on Tuesday.
They came for inspiration, education, the opportunity to meet like-minded people and to swap political war-stories -- a veritable army of activists of diverse backgrounds and movements who are one or all of the following: anti-war, anti-illegal immigration, anti-intervention in the affairs of other nations, pro-national sovereignty, pro-individual liberty, pro-civil liberties, pro-property rights, pro-Bill of Rights (all Amendments), pro-sound money, and more.
"No matter how much our message is ignored or ridiculed, as was done in the [presidential] campaign, no matter how much they did to us, it only energized our grass roots," Paul told the Associated Press.
And they were certainly energized. They arrived by car, plane and "Ronvoys" - caravans of minivans and charter buses organized on the Internet. A few planned to walk from Green Bay, Wis., and join Paul for the final miles of their Walk4Freedom. Some stayed in hotels, others in campgrounds and RV parks throughout the Twin Cities area. A dairy farmer opened his premises to attendees for camping - perhaps in appreciation of Paul's opposition to the National Animal Identification System.
"Most of our people are not wealthy," said Drew Ivers, a longtime GOP activist from Iowa who is Paul's delegate coordinator at the Republican Convention, in an interview with Beth Hawkins, a reporter for MinnPost.com.
"They're working people feeling the pinch. They're not country-club elitists," Ivers explained. "With the price of gas, they're caravanning in minivans and the like. These people are sacrificing to make this happen. I think it's commendable."
Some attendees were neophytes for whom the ideas are new and exciting. Paul, a 10-term congressman from Lake Jackson in the Houston area, is 73 years old, but many young men and women are listening to what he has to say, drawn to his banner that extols individual rights and liberties. Jennifer Riley, a Fargo resident and North Dakota State University student, is one.
"I feel a deep return to liberty because of him and it gives me a lot of hope," Riley told the Duluth News Tribune. "This is a Republican that actually says something."
Others were seasoned veterans from earlier political forays, most recently Paul's unsuccessful campaign for his party's presidential nomination - a campaign that was denigrated by the media and ignored by the Republican hierarchy despite its setting two record for single-day fundraising on the Web and winning over 1.2 million votes in the primaries of several western states. In Nevada and Montana Paul placed second ahead of Sen. John McCain, and drew 14 percent from McCain in New Mexico, considered a "battleground" state.
Taking the First Step
In an e-mail message sent Friday Paul noted that the Democrats said nothing at their convention about the surveillance state, the police state, Bush's foreign policy, nor the Federal Reserve and what it's done to the economy -- and "We can only imagine what the GOP Convention will have in store for us."
"The Rally for the Republic is the first step in alerting our countrymen to these dangers, and holding out the message of freedom is the only remedy," he wrote. "We must resist the false choices the two major parties are giving us - join me in Minneapolis, and let's shake the rafters."
Originally planned as a one-day affair at the University of Minnesota's Williams Arena on Sept. 2, by mid-July it was clear to Paul and the organizers that there was enough interest to warrant expanding the rally into a three-day counterweight to the GOP convention and moving to a larger venue.
Billed as "a clear call to the Republican Party to return to its roots of limited government, personal responsibility, and protection of our natural rights" organizers promised it would be "the most spirited and provocative political event of the year."
There would be meetings, workshops, a concert -- but the culmination would be a 10-hour marathon of speakers and entertainers, held Tuesday at the Target Center.
Organizers hoped the media would be interested, but didn't count on it. No matter - in this age of the Internet, even if no media showed up the speeches could be posted on You Tube and other sites. But it was very important to have a large crowd - particularly at Tuesday's all day event.
So they used the Internet and teams of dedicated volunteers on the street to spread the word via postings online and old-fashioned leafleting that the erstwhile presidential candidate was in town. Plus, posters appeared throughout the area featuring quotes from Paul's best-selling campaign book - The Revolution: A Manifesto.
The hard work paid off. By Monday over 10,300 tickets for Tuesday's rally had been sold, priced at $17.76 (yes!) each.
And on Monday evening, a thousand supporters showed up for a book signing at Borders book store in the Rosedale Center mall in Roseville. The line of Paul supporters, eager to have their own autographed copy, stretched from the book store to Macy's, more than a football field away, the St. Petersburg [Florida] Times reported.
Asked why he was there, Tony Sotelo, 32, a postal worker from Ventura, Calif., told the SP Times -- "Are you kidding' Ron Paul has done so much for this country. What I've done is so little compared to what he's done."
Sotelo said he'd driven three days with his older brother Sean Sotelo to be at the "Ron Paul Convention."
On Sunday, 500 rally-goers attended a sold-out, half-day workshop in "Real Politics" at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center that Ivers described as a course in "Politics 101."
"For most of them, this is the first time they've done this," said Ivers. "We're training people to get back into grassroots politics. A lot of our new people think politics is backroom stuff. At the level we want to work at, the local, county, and community level, it's all one-on-one, it's not backroom at all."
Next day, Monday, at the invitation-only Leadership Summit - also held at the Brown Heritage Center -- plans were made to build a structure for Paul's ongoing Campaign for Liberty.
Shaking the Rafters
Interviewed on CNN's "American Morning" Tuesday, Paul explained that he organized the Rally for the Republic after officials at the Republican National Committee told him he would not be allowed to address the GOP presidential nominating convention, and could not bring any staff with him to the floor of the convention. Instead, he'd have to be accompanied by a chaperone.
"It was a bit of a slight," he observed dryly.
Nonetheless, he said, the rally was to be a positive event focused on issues other Republicans ignore - "the spending problems, the deficit, our foreign policy, our national defense, our monetary policy."
"If we are Republicans and we believe in limited government and personal liberty we ought to be talking about these things, and I don't think they are really too interested," he said.
He added that speakers at the rally that day would address these matters. And they did -- though at least one reporter did not like what he was hearing or the audience response. Brian Montopoli, with CBS News:
"The Paul faithful became most enthusiastic when speakers railed against those things that many in the Libertarian-leaning crowd opposed, some of them obscure: The Lisbon Agreement, the North American Union, a National ID Card. (The last prompted cheers of "No ID.") When the Constitution Party's Howard Phillips mentioned ending US involvement in the United Nations, he got a huge cheer from the crowd; when he lauded Paul's proposal to abolish the Federal Reserve, he got an even bigger one.
Paul's point would be that these matters ought not to be considered "obscure," but should be under intense scrutiny by the American people and the Congress.
The lineup of speakers had been an impressive roster of libertarian and conservative stars, with NBC's Tucker Carlson headlining the event. The roster included -- Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips, Mises Institute director Lew Rockwell; former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, tax-reform activist Grover Norquist, former two-term New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former California Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr., son of the late senator, who introduced Paul.
Top entertainers were also on stage: country singer Sarah Evans and pop-singer Aimee Allen, and Jimmie Vaughn. Allen sang the much-requested Ron Paul Revolution theme song she had recorded.
Reports from the Internet indicate the three-day Rally for the Republic was a complete success.
This, from a senior who calls himself HYDROMAN to the DailyPaul.com website is a tribute in a nutshell to the rally organizers, the speakers, his new friends, and DailyPaul.com webmaster and champion blogger Michael Nystrom, who kept everyone up-to-date on what was happening.
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"I loaded up my van and traveled 1200+ miles from my home on the Texas coastal bend (The dead center of the "Redneck Riviera") to be surrounded by 10,000+ strangers with whom I felt a kinship in freedom. I could feel the vibrations of Liberty in my bones with every speaker that approached the podium. This was the greatest time this old man has ever had.
"I probably would not have known about this event without your website.
"Long live liberty for all."
Press coverage has been surprisingly positive or at least informative, with articles appearing in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and other major dailies. Tuesday morning Paul was interviewed on CNN and that evening his speech was presented on C-SPAN.
Links to these and other articles and videos are posted at www.dailypaul.com.
Links to Selected News Coverage:
Paul pledges to continue Internet-organized "Revolution",
Declan McCullagh, CNET News, Sept. 3, 2008
2 - Paul Tops Off Rally for Republic with Fiery Speech, Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, Fox News, Sept. 3, 2008
3 - Ron Paul followers gathering for own convention, Suzanne Gamboa, AP News, Aug. 30, 2008
4 - Ron Paul's rally: The other political convention in town, Beth Hawkins, MinnPost.com, Aug. 31, 2008
5 - Ron Paul books a star turn when the GOP backs off Jennifer Liberto, St. Petersburg Times, Sept. 2, 2008
Ron Paul does not read canned speeches, "he always speaks from his head and his heart." However, he does write outlines that he uses as the basis of an address. His Rally for the Republic speech is on the Campaign for Liberty's website.
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