Ron Paul, Snubbed By RNC, Ends Presidential Campaign With Rally in Tampa

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Two-time Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul made full use of his final campaign rally on Sunday to take his final shots at an establishment that never quite delivered on promises to include him and his libertarian followers.

His rally at the University of Southern Florida's SunDome drew over 7,000 fans, an event staged in response to a Republican convention that will not include Paul.

Mitt Romney's campaign offered him a speaking slot at the national event this week on condition that he provide his remarks to them in advance for their approval.

Paul declined.

He'll still be honored in a video tribute on Tuesday night, but his convention presence - or lack thereof - was one of the first subjects Paul covered Sunday.

"Today I was very excited to get a call from the RNC," Paul said, before cracking a joke related to the weather-related postponement of Monday events.

"They said they changed their mind. They're going to give me a whole hour and I can say whatever I want - tomorrow night! Just kidding."

Paul directly referenced rules changes that may keep similarly insurgent delegates from succeeding in future elections, seeming stung by disappointment.

The RNC "learned how to bend rules, break rules, and now they want to rewrite the rules," the 77-year-old said. "That's what we have to stop."

He also nodded to the view, common among Paul supporters, that votes had been miscounted or improperly counted in multiple primary states.

"Ultimately numbers do count," he said. "And numbers do count even when they don't count all the votes as well. Because we do have the numbers!"

Paul may be angry that after years of effort and compromise, insiders are not letting him in. But he's also now able to speak unfiltered - even by his standards.

He took full advantage on Sunday, filling 67 minutes with a laundry list of historical references, bits of his stump speech, and nostalgic philosophizing.

The retiring Texas Congressman frequently wandered into territory only he will go, from criticizing Federal Reserve policies to defending WikiLeaks.

Leak source Bradley Manning, Paul said, "is in the military so there are probably some debates on exactly how and what to do, but let me tell you."

"Bradley Manning didn't kill anybody, Bradley Manning hasn't caused the death of anybody, and what he has exposed, he is the equivalent to Daniel Ellsberg, who told us the truth about Vietnam."

"I'm afraid that if we took a poll across the country and said 'Should we try Assange for treason?' that most Americans would say oh yes he's a bad guy, he's telling us all these secrets. But guess what, he's an Australian citizen."

On liberty," Paul said, "When it returns, once again you’ll be able to drink raw milk. You’ll be able to make a rope out of hemp. You’ll be able to feel secure in your house because the federal government will not be able to spy on you."

On foreign policy: "People say that If people listened to me, Osama bin Laden would still be alive. You know what I say? So would the 3,000 people killed on 9/11!"

On the threat of fascism: "I do think we have to worry about fascism, an expansion of what we have which is corporatism."

On his legion of young fans, and mainstreaming his movement: "Wouldn't you say that if there was a party that said 'We have an open tent, we want new people to come in, we want to appeal to young people' - don't you think they would be begging and pleading that they come into the big tent?"

"We will get into the tent, believe me. Because we will become the tent."

With his retirement, becoming the tent is a task that will now fall to Paul's son Rand, the junior senator from Kentucky, and on a host of younger candidates and members of Congress who count Paul as an influence.

"The worst thing we could do is be silent,” Paul said.

He left the stage to thunderous applause.

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Ron Paul Biography

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Dr. Ron Paul is an obstetrician, author, United States Congressman, and a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential... More »
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Full Name
Ronald Ernest Paul