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GOP Excludes Ron Paul From Speaking in Tampa

by Peter Barbour, published
Photo: ABC News

The son is in and the father out. Senator Rand Paul (KY) is scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention later this month in Tampa while the senator's father and Republican presidential candidate, Dr. Ron Paul (TX), has not been scheduled to speak, disappointing his many supporters.

Getting shut out of this year's convention, just as the Texas congressman was shut out of last cycle's convention, is likely a "punishment" for not endorsing the party's presumptive nominee. The purpose of all national conventions, whether Democratic or Republican, is to present a united party and provide positive momentum for all candidates, especially the party's top ticket of president and vice president. Rand Paul endorsed Governor Romney and he will be speaking; Ron Paul has not and most likely will not endorse Romney-- and he will not be speaking.

Senator Paul differs from Romney on issues of importance to millions of Americans who consider liberty the most important ingredient of good public policy, issues like warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention of American citizens, and executive overreach (e.g. the NDAA, the Patriot Act), but his endorsement of Romney is why he is speaking.

However, if the GOP were to allow someone to speak who fails to endorse the party's nominee while taking an independent position from the party on several issues, in this case Rep. Ron Paul, that could publicly embarrass the party before millions of viewers and fracture the party even more than it is now.

And make no mistake, there is a fracture. Most GOP voters will vote for Governor Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan in November, but Paul's showing in the GOP primary this year reveals that there are millions of liberty-minded voters who will likely not vote for Romney / Ryan because of the ticket's unwillingness so far to support any of the issues that matter to these liberty voters. In a close election with several swing states in contention, those votes could be decisive and lead to a second term for President Obama.

But leaving the elder Paul out of the convention may not help the party present a unified front to the country, nor hide the fracture growing within. Though the RNC has not allowed Ron Paul to speak at the convention, they can't keep him from talking to the media during the convention, nor muzzle his supporters on the convention floor. No one expects that the Romney / Ryan ticket and GOP will adopt the entire Ron Paul agenda as their own, but if their goal is party unity and strength, they should look for opportunities to extend an olive branch to Ron Paul supporters when they can.

For instance, Rep. Paul sponsored HR 459 (The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2012) and it was passed overwhelmingly in the House by a vote of 327-98. The significance of this vote is that 89 Democrats joined 238 Republicans in support of Ron Paul's bill. That is bipartisan support. If Romney and the GOP were smart, they would publicly announce strong support for Dr. Paul's bill and urge the Senate to pass it and President Obama to sign it. Supporting HR 459 would not get all of Ron Paul's supporters, but it could get enough of them to make the difference between winning and losing in November.

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