The curtain was raised on the state Republican Party convention this morning on the lawn outside the Mayo Civic Center before the convention was even gaveled to order inside.
Presidential candidate Ron Paul told a few hundred of his supporters that his longshot candidacy will ultimately fall short to John Mc Cainâ€™s, but he still hopes they will be able to play a part at the partyâ€™s national convention in St. Paul.
â€œIf the votes arenâ€™t there, we still have a role to play,â€ said Paul, a 10-term congressman from Texas. â€œWe want to change this country. We want to change this party. Some we win, some we lose, but we may just have a grand presence in Minneapolis on Sept. 2nd.â€
Even as Paul has lagged far back in the race against McCain, his backers have been accumulating national convention delegates in several states with a goal of securing him a speaking spot at the national convention. In Minnesota, theyâ€™ve already secured at least six delegates and hoped this morning to snag some of the 14 that will be awarded at the state convention.
Conceding â€œwe donâ€™t have the votes,â€ Paul said his campaign â€œfor the freedom revolution will continue for a long time to come. We have the rightness on our side. We have the issues.â€
Paulâ€™s issues, a libertarian mix of anti-war, anti-tax, anti-big government stands, has attracted substantial grassroots support nationwide, which has allowed him to raise a substantial amount of campaign funds, mostly by way of the Internet.
His supporters, disenchanted with McCainâ€™s supposed lack of conservative bonafides, are devoted to Paulâ€™s cause, win or lose. â€œIt ainâ€™t gonna happen this time, but weâ€™ve planted a seed and are going to keep at this revolution election cycle after cycle,â€ said Colin Wilkinson, a convention alternate from St. Paul. â€œI wonâ€™t be chattel â€“ we either own the government or the government owns us.â€
Paul staged the outdoor rally because Republican officials didnâ€™t invite him to address the convention. But he worked the lobby of the convention hall, shaking hands, posing for pictures and autographing copies of his most recent best-selling book.
The delegate fight is expected to unfold later this morning.