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Politics

Ron Paul Supporters Will Be Targeted by Gary Johnson in Tampa

June 24, 2012 - 6:00pm

Former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, the presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, will be looking to steal a little of the national spotlight away from the Republican convention in Tampa in August as he makes a pitch to supporters of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

With Paul not expected to endorse former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, the Johnson camp hopes to make inroads with the maverick Texas congressmans backers.

Over the weekend, organizers of the Paul Festival, an event bringing speakers, rock bands and entertainers together in Tampa from Aug. 24-26 -- right before the Republican convention -- announced that Johnson will be taking part in their festivities. Johnsons running mate, Jim Gray -- a trial court judge based out of Orange County, Calif., who has been a sharp critic of the drug laws -- will also be speaking at the Paul Festival.

In a statement released over the weekend, Johnson said he hoped his two terms as governor, when he won national attention for his fiscal discipline and opposition to the drug laws, would help appeal to supporters across party lines.

"I am grateful and excited to receive an invitation from Paul Festival and look forward to joining such a great gathering for liberty," said Johnson. "I proudly stand by my record as a governor who united voters from all parties and beliefs."

"Governor Johnson's attendance furthers Paul Festival's goal to band together against the political establishment," said Bryan Simeon, the chief organizer of Paul Festival. "Gary Johnson spent a career unifying both the left and right and and fighting to allow all voices to be heard."

Johnson endorsed Paul for the Republican nomination in the 2008 election cycle and was hoping to appeal to the Texas congressmans supporters when he sought the nod himself. But Paul entered the race and Johnson was left out of almost all of the major debates, with the exception of the forum held in Orlando at the Republican Party of Floridas (RPOF) Presidency 5 event in September.

While he attempted to focus on New Hampshire, home of the first presidential primary, Johnson made little headway in the Granite State and on the national level. At the end of December, he announced that he was leaving the GOP to continue his presidential bid as a Libertarian. Johnson won that partys nomination at their convention in May.

While Paul expects to bring 200 delegates to the Republican convention in Tampa, he is not expected to back Romney or speak at the convention. Some of Pauls supporters -- including most prominently his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. -- have announced that they are backing Romney.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.
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