The Republican National Committee finally gave in to Ron Paul‘s fanatical supporters this week, signing off on a three-day festival that will fête the septuagenarian congressman in the days leading up to the party’s national convention in Tampa this August.Paul Festival organiser Bryan Siemon told Business Insider that the event team signed a contract Tuesday to host the event at the Florida State Fairgrounds from Aug. 14 to Aug. 26, wrapping up weeks of uncertainty over the fate of PaulFest. The Fairgrounds are one of 73 official venues that the RNC reserved for the convention.
organisers had been working out the final details of a deal with the Fairgrounds last month, when the RNC pulled the plug, saying that the party needed more time to decide who could use the convention venues. Unsurprisingly, Ron Paul fans email-bombed and media-blitzed the party, and the RNC ultimately relented when event organisers threatened to move the festival — and all the Ron Paul revenue — to Orlando.
Siemon said he does not know why the GOP balked. Like many Ronulans, he speculates that Republicans were trying to block the festival because they are worried about Paul’s influence and fervent following.
Siemon also points out that the Fairgrounds agreement came almost immediately after Sen. Rand Paul‘s surprise endorsement of Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
“It seems too coincidental,” he told Business Insider, adding slyly: “We’re conspiracy theorists, after all.”
A spokesman for the Republican National Convention has not yet responded to Business Insider’s request for comment.
But while Paul Festival is designed to celebrate the libertarian iconoclast and his fans, sources close to Paul’s campaign point out that the bash could actually pose some serious political problems for Paul as he winds down his third and final White House bid.
If he doesn’t go, the source explained, he risks losing his grasp on the leadership of the movement, and disappointing his loyal supporters — not to mention the 200+ delegates Paul has pledged to bring to the floor in Tampa. On the other hand, if Paul attends his party, he risks angering and losing leverage with the Republican Party right before the convention, especially in the event of any incidents or discord.
So far, Paul has neither committed nor declined the invitation to speak at his eponymous festival. Attendance will likely depend on whether he shows up, but Siemon predicts between 30,000 and 40,000 people will show, at the least. And organisers are in the process of lining up other Liberty Movement speakers and Liberty-friendly performers to fill the show.
“I think Tampa is going to be Paul Festival,” he said. “But ‘Paul Festival’ is really just an honorary title — it’s a Liberty Rally.”
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