On Sunday in Tampa, Ron Paul delivered a one hour and five minute-long speech to cheering supporters at the University of Florida’s Sun Dome.
Dubbed the “We are the Future Rally,” the six hour-long event was both a tribute to the retiring Texas congressman and a counter-convention to that of the Republican Party's being held at nearby Tampa Bay Times Forum. Paul had been offered a speaking slot at the RNC, but he declined because the offer was contingent on his endorsement of Mitt Romney, and his speech being preapproved by the Romney campaign.
Ron Paul was introduced by his son Rand, senator from Kentucky, along with a WWE-esque theme song. Although the younger Paul has come under fire from die-hard libertarians for his endorsement of Romney, he was nonetheless enthusiastically cheered at the Sun Dome, with the crowd chanting “Paul 2016!” when he was introduced. Rand actually gave a better, more engaging speech than his headliner 77 year-old father, whose 65 minute speech tackled the core issues at the heart of the libertarian cause — the Federal Reserve, foreign policy, civil liberties, and the overall size of government.
Despite not winning a single primary or caucus, Ron Paul managed to scrape together 200 bound delegates for the convention — a testament to the organization of Paul’s game on the ground, and the fervor of his supporters, many of which are millennials disillusioned with the two-party system. Even before Sunday’s rally, Paul had already left his mark on the Republican Party platform, which this year includes a provision calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve, as well as the creation of a commission that will study the viability of a return to the gold standard. Both of these issues have been near and dear to Paul for the duration of his tenure in Washington, and the incorporation of these issues into the platform represents a clear attempt by the GOP to extend an olive branch to Ron Paul libertarians.
Where the Liberty Movement goes from here remains to be seen. For the last four or five years, Paul has been the de facto leader of the cause, around which millions of supporters across the country have coalesced. It may be that Rand Paul can become that focal point, but he will have to overcome the perception held by many in the movement that he is too willing to compromise with members of the party establishment.