TAMPA, Fla. — Ron Paul supporters are unhappy that Republican National Convention organizers aren’t letting them throw a festival honoring the Texas congressman and presidential candidate the weekend before the gathering.
Spokesman Bryan Siemon said his group is organizing a three-day “PaulFest” at the Florida State Fairgrounds that would include music, comedians and speakers. But the Republicans control Tampa’s public venues during the convention and haven’t given PaulFest approval to use the fairgrounds.
Convention organizers say they aren’t blocking anyone and that a decision will be made within a few weeks.
“We do have the request,” said James Davis. “We have an extraordinary amount for requests for the venues we do have. We’re going through and making assignments and no one has turned down any assignment yet.”
Paul’s libertarian beliefs have drawn him avid followers and some delegates. Supporters of presumed nominee Mitt Romney fear Paul supporters will protest during the convention, detracting from Romney’s message and party unity. Paul has lined up about 140 delegates for the convention. He suspended active campaigning in May and has not indicated whether he will endorse Romney.
Siemon said Tuesday that he is “disappointed” with convention organizers. He worries that by the time the RNC makes a decision, it will be too late to organize the festival, which could draw thousands.
“We have a timeline,” said Siemon. “If we can’t get this date secured, it will make it impossible to put on a festival of this large size.”
Siemon added that he and the festival’s other organizers — along with many people who want to attend the PaulFest — are Republicans. The festival is a way to thank Paul for his beliefs and campaign, Siemon said.
The PaulFest is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 24-26, and the convention begins on Aug. 27.
Siemon said that Paul has been invited to the event but has not yet confirmed he’ll go.