The second night of the Republican National Convention kicked off with an effort at party reconciliation: a video tribute to Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, whose loyal faction of libertarian followers have been a restless and vocal presence at the convention.
Republican statesmen including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.), Sen. Mike Lee (Utah), and Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) spoke in the video, praising Paul’s decades-long record of prizing values over politics and compromise, and standing by his principles.
McConnell said that Paul was the only politician he knew who was able to make a difference by making a point. Rand Paul marveled that lobbyists wouldn’t even stop by his father’s office, knowing his vote couldn’t be bought.
The lights came up to a rousing ovation from Paul supporters around the convention hall.
Later on, Rand Paul took the stage, warming his audience to the theme of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law as unconstitutional.
“Madison was unequivocal: the powers of the federal government are few and defined,” he said. “How do we fix this travesty of justice? There’s only one option left: we have to have a new president!”
He continued on the “we built that” message of the night before, emphasizing the importance of honoring Americans who worked hard and made sacrifices as an investment in their own success.
“To lead us forward, away from the looming debt crisis, it will take someone who believes in America’s greatness, who believes in and can articulate the American dream,” he said. “Someone who has created jobs, someone who understands and appreciates what makes America great, someone who will lead our party and our nation forward. I believe that someone is our nominee: Governor Mitt Romney.”
Though Rand Paul has made a name for himself as a tea party senator who embraces many of the same values of his father, his message Wednesday night was a rallying cry around the values that unite Republicans of every stripe.
Still, it soon became clear that Ron Paul supporters would not be won over so easily.
While Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) delivered a speech about national security, many of them staged a walk-out, marching through the arena entrance halls and chanting, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation.”
The chant was a reference to a GOP leadership move to split the Maine delegation in order to keep Paul from receiving all the state’s delegates, and thus maintaining a united front for Romney. While the disruption soon quieted as the delegates moved outside, one thing became clear Wednesday night: like Paul, his supporters are not likely to be bought by the mainstream Republican party.