Shut out of a visible role in the Republican convention, Texas congressman Ron Paul held his own raucous, shadow convention Tuesday night, officially launching a new political group he hopes will channel on some of the energy of his own failed presidential campaign.
Touting his 'Campaign for Liberty', Paul also celebrated his differences with the Republican party: while the GOP showcased a pro-war former Democrat in Sen. Joe Lieberman at its convention across the Mississippi River in St. Paul, the Texas Republican brought his supporters to their feet arguing that the US should not be involved in any wars unless it is in danger of being invaded.
It's actually war that begets terrorism, he argued. "We have a threat from terrorism, but that is a consequence of a seriously flawed foreign policy," Paul said.
As a candidate, Paul failed to register enough votes to bring him anywhere near the Republican nomination, but generated buzz with vocal supporters and several quarters of strong fundraising – both of which were on display at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis as the crowd of some 10,000 supporters cheered him on.
Paul's shadow convention, dubbed the "Rally for the Republic," was a party paid for entirely with donations and ticket sales – $17.76 per head to commemorate the founding fathers, whose message Paul thinks have been muddled by two plus centuries of laws.
The biggest cheers came when Paul argued, as he did throughout his presidential campaign, that the Federal Reserve has hurt Americans with inflation and should be abolished.
"There should be no federal reserve system," he yelled, adding later, "Can you believe that 18 months ago I didn't think any of you existed or cared or knew about the federal reserve?"
Still on a mission to remake the GOP, for the first time Paul talked about his group (if not himself) working outside the Republican party. A true revolution, he said, will extend beyond party lines.
"I wanted to be President because of the things I don't want to do," Paul said, arguing that "resisting the temptation of power requires some strength and we don't need more government power," he said.
Earlier today, Paul offered no support for his party's presidential nominee, calling John McCain "the lesser of two evils."
Paul's comments at his Minneapolis news conference came as doors opened to his Republican National Convention counter-rally, where his legion of supporters gathered in the Twin City area from across the country, congregating by midmorning to display the fierce loyalty to Paul that marked the group through the primary process.
At the entrance to the Target Center -- across the Mississippi River, eight miles from St. Paul -- the supporters waved signs, cried "Freedom!" and cheered for passing cars that honked encouragement as though the candidate was emerging.
The RNC has not reacted to the counter-rally and has no plans to issue any statement.
On the delegate floor, Republicans didn't consider the counter-rally a distraction, rather they offered praise for Paul's contributions to the primary season.
Steve Colligan with the Alaska delegation said "the Ron Paul effort in Alaska brought young people to interact in politics, so over all it's been good."