Most groups demonstrating at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week were kept well outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum. But after passing through the security cordon, I stumbled on many dozens of Ron Paul supporters that were making it hard to get to my seat in the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the main event on Thursday night.
They were holding signs labeled “grassroots” and for the most part staying quiet, with some actually wearing duct tape across their lips – a subtle symbol that they feel silenced.
The also had a list of grievances with the Republican Party for manipulating the rules of the convention so that Paul was effectively maneuvered out of the convention. They also told me they were opposed on the grounds that those maneuverings consolidated the power of the establishment, not only because it hurt the candidate almost all of them supported.
Even though Ron Paul was one of the competitors for the Republican nomination that stayed in the race the longest, racking up more than 100 delegates, but the RNC changed the rules to keep some of his delegates from being seated.
While this turn of events angered the Paul supporters at the convention, it pleased many Jewish Republicans who watched with discomfort as the Texas representative who opposes aid to Israel and sanctions on Iran gained a sizable following during the GOP primaries. Concerned that Paul could cause broader Jewish estrangement from the Republican Party, they sighed with relief as his profile was lowered in Tampa.
“The party has done a lot of things, to its credit, to minimize Ron Paul and diminish his role at the convention,” Matt Brooks told me and other members of the Jewish media at a press conference during the week. “Ron Paul is seen as an outsider at this convention and is being treated as outside the mainstream of the Republican Party.”
It was the case that Paul was denied a speaking role – though his son, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, did have one – but a tribute video was played Wednesday night that had no less a mainstream GOP-er than Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, complimenting him.
And he concluded, “Whether people want to admit it or not, Ron Paul changed the conversation.”
-Hilary Leila Krieger