Minn. delegates attending Paul rally despite storm in Tampa

Marianne Stebbins
Marianne Stebbins, the chairwoman of the Minnesota delegation to the Republican National Convention, speaks at a rally in Tampa, Fla., for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 26, 2012. Stebbins was also the chairwoman for Paul's presidential campaign in Minnesota.
MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik

TAMPA, Fla. -- As Isaac moves through the Gulf of Mexico, tens of thousands of visitors to the Tampa area in town for the Republican National Convention are watching and waiting to see what happens with the tropical storm, which is expected to become a hurricane. Among them is a contingent of Minnesotans.

GOP officials delayed Republican National Committee business until Tuesday afternoon because of the threat of bad weather.

But Texas Rep. Ron Paul is going ahead with his big Sunday rally, which is not official business. Reached on her way to the rally, Marianne Stebbins, the chairwoman of the Minnesota RNC delegation, said that members of the delegation and guests aren't too concerned about the weather.

"I think this storm is to Tampa like a blizzard might be to Minnesota," she said. "You kind of prepare and look out for it, but the sense I'm getting from the locals here is they're not too concerned about it."

Isaac's track has been shifting to the northwest, reducing the direct threat to Tampa. Still, forecasters are predicting severe weather with strong winds and heavy rain throughout much of southern Florida.

Stebbins said: "From what I've seen of the weather forecast, yes, we're going to get some strong winds and a lot of rain, so that means we're just going to stay inside for a day. What I'm understanding is that you know there might still be some bad weather, but we're going to be ready to go back to it on Tuesday."

The Paul rally will take place at the at the University of South Florida on Sunday afternoon.

Thirty-two of Minnesota's 40 delegates to the RNC are Paul supporters. Stebbins, who was also the chairwoman of Paul's Minnesota campaign, says she expects that fellow Paul supporters will fill the Sun Dome's 11,000 seats to celebrate his campaign.

Ron Paul rally
In Tampa, Fla., a rally to celebrate the presidential campaign of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, at the University of South Florida's Sun Dome got under way shortly after noon Central time on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012. The Sun Dome, which can hold 11,000 people, appeared to be about two-thirds full.
MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik

"This is the culmination of the campaign because Ron won't be allowed to speak at the national convention itself," she said. "This is the opportunity for America to hear him in context with the national convention, for him to talk about his issues which are not going to get aired at the national convention."

Those issues include Paul's call to audit the Federal Reserve Bank and dramatically reduce U.S. foreign military operations.

Stebbins added: "America's future is the theme of this rally, and I'll be speaking there for a little bit. I will be giving some suggestions as to how we keep this going and growing, as will other speakers be speaking on similar topics."

Also, Stebbins and other Paul supporters say they're disappointed that the campaign of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is not doing more to reach out to what they call the "liberty" wing of the party.

Although Paul is not speaking at the convention, his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has a prime-time slot at the podium.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.