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Former Presidential Candidate Challenges GOP to Re-Evaluate Ideals

While Republicans gathered for their convention in St. Paul Tuesday, former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul held a rally across the Mississippi River in the city of Minneapolis, challenging Republicans to re-evaluate their ideals. VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Minneapolis, some supporters hope Paul's libertarian movement may someday evolve Into a third political party.

With supporters singing his praises at a daylong rally, it might seem that Ron Paul is ready to launch an independent campaign for the presidency. But the Texas congressman says he remains a Republican committed to taking the party back to its true conservative principles, even though he says the party does not want him at the convention and restricted his access to the convention area where delegates gather, called the floor.

"My floor privileges have been strictly limited, and over the years, as a Republican congressman - I have been elected 10 times - I always got floor passes. I could go and come as I pleased. They have given me a pass, which is second class," he said.

Paul supporters range from anti-big-government activists who reject both parties to those who identify themselves as Republicans bent on bringing their party back to its basic Libertarian principles. One participant at the rally, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, favors neither the Republicans nor the Democrats. He says Ron Paul could help launch an effective independent party for future elections.

"He is the cornerstone of a movement here in the United States, and I am a great believer that we certainly need more than two choices," he explained. "I think, politically, he and I would agree much more than we would disagree on any subject."

Some people attending the rally, like this man, want to challenge the politicians who currently hold sway in both major parties, and who run the government in Washington.

"We are going to fight them, we are going to find a candidate to run against these people," he said.

But Kathryn Kist, an alternate delegate to the Republican convention from Kansas, wants to promote change from within her party by emphasizing core Libertarian principles.

"Smaller government, lower taxes, more personal responsibility, a lot fewer welfare handouts, just taking care of your own," she noted.

Steve Rogers is a Republican convention delegate who came to the Ron Paul rally to show his support for what he regards as true conservative principles.

"We are going to have to drag the Republican Party kicking and screaming back to its conservative principles because a lot of the leadership is not conservative."

Rogers says one area of disagreement with the party is involvement in foreign wars like Iraq.

"Ron Paul voted to go into Afghanistan. We are not against what legitimately needs to be done, but there are so many places where we have no legitimate business," he added.

Ron Paul's opposition to the Iraq war, based on the principle of limiting government's use of power, drew support from thousands of young people, many of whom started Internet blogs and video projects in support of his cause. Even though they failed to elect their candidate, Paul supporters remain energized. They say they are fighting for personal liberty and strict adherence to the constitution and they will not give up.