ByÂ WILLIAM MARCHÂ |Â The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA –Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul is planning his activities at the Republican National Convention in Tampa with an eye to making sure his supporters are part of the mainstream GOP process and not a disruptive force, a top campaign official said Tuesday.
Partly for that reason, Paul intends to hold his own rally the Sunday before the convention and avoid a three-day Paul Festival to be held at the state fairgrounds â€“ even though the event is intended to celebrate his 77th birthday.
A third libertarian-oriented event also is being planned to precede the convention. Competition or overlap among the three is likely.
The third event, called Freedom Festival, will be held at the Fantasy of Flight aviation attraction off Interstate 4 near Lakeland and will feature another libertarian candidate, former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, who has some political views markedly different from Paul’s.
In an interview Tuesday, Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton said the Texas congressman wants his backers “to be a constructive part of a coalition” and “influence the party by showing our strength in numbers” during the convention.
Last month, Paul sent a message to the RNC that he doesn’t intend to disrupt the highly scripted process, typical for political conventions, of declaring Mitt Romney the Republican nominee.
At the convention, “We want to celebrate the success of the campaign and set the proper tone of decorum and respect for our delegates,” Benton said. “We want to get ready to participate in the convention in a positive and constructive manner.”
Benton said Paul will avoid events where his campaign doesn’t set the tone and message. The event at the fairgrounds is being held by Paul supporters who aren’t affiliated with the campaign.
They’re likely to be disappointed at his absence, however.
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