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Ron Paul event focused on issues, local man says
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As the primary season winds down, most presidential hopefuls bow out, lending support to the nominees taking center stage at the convention.

Except for Ron Paul, it seems.
The Libertarian-leaning Texas congressman, along with his supporters, hasn’t thrown in the towel yet. Paul went so far as to hold his own counter-convention Tuesday near the Republican National Convention being held in St. Paul, Minn.

Local Paul supporter Travis Jones, a network administrator, traveled to Minneapolis to attend Paul’s Rally for the Republic, which attracted thousands of supporters from all over the country.

Jones said he was attracted to Paul’s ideas because, "These issues are timeless. At this point, it’s not really about Ron Paul anymore. It’s about his message. He just happens to be the one who brought these issues to the forefront. It’s much bigger than Ron Paul now."

Paul’s message is to bring the country back to its constitutional roots and to reduce government influence as much as possible to increase personal liberties.

Jones said he isn’t satisfied with the Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

"McCain isn’t really talking about the issues that we support," Jones said.

Jones said it wasn’t until Paul entered the presidential race that he became interested and involved in the political process.

He heard a television interview with Paul and was drawn to the issues he discussed. Jones said he then decided to get involved in Paul’s campaign by holding "Meetups" and waving signs supporting Paul around Hall County.

Paul’s supporters are zealous and, through his Campaign for Liberty, say they are dedicated to electing local officials who embody their ideals on a grassroots level.

Paul’s movement even has been referred to by some as a revolution.

"It’s a revolution of ideas. That’s what the campaign for liberty is all about," Jones said. "Ron Paul makes it clear that the revolution is peaceful. Violence is contrary to liberty."

Douglas Young, a professor of political science and history at Gainesville State College, said he believes there are a number of reasons Paul has been able to maintain such a devout following among young conservatives long after the primary election.

"More and more of my students tend to be leaning Libertarian," Young said. "Ron Paul was the first major-party candidate for president that really struck a chord with a lot of those young people."

Young thinks Paul’s candidacy may cause the Republican party to be more responsive to its Libertarian-leaning wing.

"I think that the Ron Paul campaign was very healthy, because it allowed the Republicans to have a much wider debate, he brought a lot more energy into the campaign," Young said. "I certainly think that the Republican establishment now recognizes that there is a stronger base of Libertarians in the party than they realized. And especially among young people. And that’s a big part of the future of the party, of course."

But some other local Republicans don’t think Paul has retained enough relevance to affect the future of the party.

"I don’t think he’s going to have any effect on the election whatsoever this year," said Chris Masters, vice chairman of the Hall County Young Republicans. "He’s really not on the radar."

Masters said though Paul and McCain supporters clash on some issues, he does not believe there will be any sort of rift within the Republican Party.

"I don’t think it’s ever been a divisive thing," Masters said.

But Masters, who initially supported Republican hopeful Mike Huckabee, said he now fully supports McCain and feels Paul’s reluctance to endorse McCain is selfish.

"When you listen to what John McCain said (Thursday), when he was a Navy pilot, he was all about himself. ... It wasn’t until he got shot down and became a prisoner of war that he finally realized not only what it was to really love America, but what it was to put something ahead of himself or someone ahead of himself," Masters said. "It’s that kind of selflessness that allows somebody to rise above the pack. Whereas sometimes those who don’t win, if they do things like what Ron Paul’s doing, that shows a bit of selfishness."

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