At Tampa Rally, Defiant Ron Paul Supporters Bash Both Parties

Despite only tepid support for Mitt Romney, the overall message was still that Barack Obama must be defeated.

TAMPA -- Despite an impending hurricane that threatened the Republican National Convention, more than 1,000 people attended a rally celebrating Rep. Ron Paul at the Sun Dome in Tampa on Sunday.

Speakers, including Paul's son, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, and several other lawmakers, voiced emphatic dissatisfaction with the Republican Party -- a banner referred to Ron Paul as a "RepubliCAN" -- but were more emphatic still that President Obama must be replaced.

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There was no endorsement for Mitt Romney, who clinched the Republican presidential nomination in May and will officially earn the party's endorsement this week in at the RNC. Paul told The New York Times he was offered a chance to speak at the main convention in return for a full-throated endorsement of Romney and letting Romney's team vet his speech. "It wouldn't be my speech," Paul told the Times. "That would undo everything I've done in the last 30 years. I don't fully endorse him for president."

Instead of a Republican unity rally, attendees were treated to a litany of Paul's pet issues. Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, spoke against the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the military to arrest any American without warrant. He also reminded the audience of the importance of an open, unrestricted Web. "Ron Paul supporters need to protect the freedom of the Internet," he said. South Carolina state senator Tom Davis started his remarks by saying, "Bernanke is a traitor," spurring the audience to chants of "No more Fed."

There was not, however, unanimity on all issues. Although Paul is opposed to abortion, Walter Block, a professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, suggested that Paul backers should compromise on the issue by considering abortion in terms of expelling a trespasser. The idea drew boos from the audience.

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Julie Dermansky is a multimedia reporter and artist based in New Orleans. She is an affiliate scholar at Rutgers University's Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights. Visit her website at www.jsdart.com.

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