TAMPA, Fla. - Rep. Ron Paul might have fallen short in his bid for the presidency, but this afternoon the libertarian leaning Texas congressman proclaimed his "liberty movement" alive and well.
Paul took center stage at his "We Are the Future" rally at the University of South Florida.
Animated and witty, he stuck to the message of limited government, the central theme of his presidential bid and a message he has been delivering all of his life.
"We want to get the government out of the business it's not supposed to be doing," Paul said.
Paul's rally sometimes resembled a rock concert. Fans wearing shirts with his name and image stood under colorful lights drinking tap beer and listened to Blues Traveler frontman John Popper perform ahead of Paul's remarks.
Many carried signs and shouted for the elimination of the I.R.S. and the Federal Reserve banking system
In an otherwise highly scripted week for the party, the event on the eve of the kickoff of the Republicans' nominating convention, was seen as an unpredictable.
Paul ended active campaigning in June and unlike most of his GOP rivals, hasn't endorsed Mitt Romney's candidacy. He told The New York Times for a story Sunday that he was denied a chance to speak because he refused to let the Romney campaign vet his remarks and give an unconditional endorsement.
Paul didn't win a single state during his bid for the presidency, but still amassed more than 150 delegates to the convention.
Paul's coalition is made up of anti-war Republicans, people who want stricter government adherence to the Constitution and those who want to dismantle the Federal Reserve.
Paul encouraged his supporters to continue until their views are the GOP mainstream.
"Believe me, we will get in the tent because we will become the tent eventually," he said. "With the energy that we have, it seems to me they would be begging and pleading for us to come into the party."
Paul, 77, is leaving Congress after his 12th term expires at year's end. He will be honored Tuesday night in a video tribute at the convention. The RNC also amended the party's platform to include policy provisions Paul has advocated for, such as an audit of the Federal Reserve.
Despite the conciliatory gestures, some of Paul's ardent supports believe the Republican Party is marginalizing him.
"It's nice they're doing a tribute, but it doesn't change my opinion of them," said Susie Mann, 55, of Columbus, Ohio. "Let the man speak."