Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican turned independent, joined the anti-Romney chorus Sunday as he endorsed Obama and slammed Republicans for veering to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that theyve proven incapable of governing for the people.
In Tampa, the days biggest, liveliest event was the five-hour long rally for Paul, who lost his bid for the Republican nomination but maintains a fervent fan base.
The affair was a last hurrah of sorts, since Paul and his backers are unlikely to be heard much during the actual convention. He has about 160 of the 2,286 delegates, hardly enough to force fights over the party platform. His son Rand, a U.S. senator from Kentucky, is expected to speak during the prime time sessions, but the Pauls have had virtually no influence on Romneys plans or policies.
So his supporters gathered Sunday, and sent the words that many are unlikely to back Romney in the fall unless they see him move closer to Pauls views. I cant support anyone who supports a foreign policy that basically hasnt changed since World War II, said Pierce Giboney, a railroad worker from Jacksonville.
Many Paul backers decried the foreign policy views of Romney and Obama; Paul wants the U.S. to only send troops into conflict with a clear mission and a declaration of war by Congress. At one point, the hall rocked to the song, War, What is it good for? by Edwin Starr.
Pauls views appealed to Marine Cpl. Marcus Dandrea, who lost both his legs in combat. Hes served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and recalled how, when he joined the military five years ago at age 17, you dont know a lot about politics. Now, he said, I understand a lot more, and appreciates Pauls frankness. Think about the power a president has, Dandrea said. He can send troops or bomb another country if he wants to. He should follow the Constitution. It was really meant to keep our nation safe.
Others in the crowd were more eager to discuss the nations ailing economy. Paul wants to dismantle the Federal Reserve System and has offered specific ways of trimming $1 trillion from the federal budget next year and eliminate five Cabinet agencies.