Turns out, Minneapolis is going to be the site of a large political gathering, too.
On Sept. 2, the followers of Ron Paul are vowing to fill the Target Center for 10 hours of speeches and music. This event, “Rally for the Republic,” will occur on the second day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
“Let’s call it an adjunct to their convention,” said Marianne Stebbins, who ran Paul’s Minnesota campaign when he was a candidate for president and now finds herself a key player in putting together this event.
Although the current generation of Republican leaders is trying to ignore the Paul event, they’re surely chafing at the fact that the national media will be spending time with the Paulites and not at the convention that is to bestow the Republican blessing on John McCain.
Thing is, had the Republicans just allowed Paul to speak to convention delegates, there likely would not have been a “Rally for the Republic.”
“One of our goals (during the campaign) was to get them to allow Dr. Paul to speak,” said Stebbins. “But we knew they never would.”
The Target Center rally — tickets will cost $17.76 — will cap a three-day attempt to “re-claim” the Republican Party and take it back to the values of the late Barry Goldwater, according to Stebbins. Known as the Campaign for Liberty, Paul followers from coast to coast are being urged to attend every Republican event possible and spread the word of “peace, freedom, the Constitution and sound money.”
Holding an event at nearly the same time as the Republican’s convention has long been in the works. But this thing just keeps growing.
“At first, we were looking for an auditorium that might hold 4,000,” said Jesse Benton, national spokesman for the Campaign for Liberty. “We decided that wouldn’t be big enough, so we looked at Williams Arena. And then we decided that wouldn’t be big enough.”
So, on to the Target Center, which should be big enough but likely will create even more chaos in the Twin Cities, which now will be filled with Republicans, protesters, media hordes and Paullites. Oh, and by the way, some major downtown streets are going to be torn up, too.
The Paul affair will start small, with meetings on Aug. 31 on how to create a national grass-roots campaign . It will grow slightly with more planning meetings on Labor Day, Sept. 1. And will grow a lot by that night, when a large bash — “The Ron Paul Nation Celebration” — is planned for the Blaine Sports Center.
“We’ll let our hair down,” said Stebbins.
That’s not the only party planned. Stebbins said she’s heard that Paulites are putting together a “Ron-Stock”(as in Woodstock) to be held at a dairy farm near the Twin Cities.
“Our people like spontaneous events, so I can’t tell you any of the details right now,” she said of the mini-Woodstock.
Delegates to the RNC — who include a handful of Paul supporters — will be cordially invited to the Paul festivities, even if Paul’s not been invited to the Xcel Center.
“The things we believe in are very much like what’s already in the party’s platform,” said Stebbins. “They (Republican delegates) would feel very much at home with us.”
Unlike what’s happening in St. Paul, there won’t be any ringing endorsements of McCain.
“An endorsement is very unlikely, unless he (McCain) changes many of his positions,” said Benton. “I imagine what we’ll do is advise people to go and vote their conscience.”
Benton said that the Target Center rally will be “a positive event,” featuring speakers such as Grover Norquist (of anti-tax fame) and Barry Goldwater Jr. And, of course, the main speaker will be Paul.
“This is about launching a movement to take back the House of Representatives,” said Benton. “The Republican Party is the most likely vehicle for that.”
Between speeches there will be “major” musical acts, though no deals have been finalized, Benton said.
For the moment, the big issue is finding accommodations for the thousands of Paulites. Stebbins said she’s currently blocked out about 900 rooms for the 15,000 people. She’s also looking at campgrounds and talking to local Paul followers about sharing their homes.
“I think more rooms are going to become available,” Stebbins said. “The rumor is that the RNC numbers are way down and rooms are going to become available.”