Texas Rep. Ron Paul said he won't speak at the Republican National Convention because he couldn't meet conditions set by the organizers, who allegedly asked him to fully endorse Mitt Romney and get his remarks pre-approved by his ex-rival's campaign.
"It wouldn't be my speech," Paul said in an interview with The New York Times. "That would undo everything I've done in the last 30 years. I don't fully endorse him for president."
Paul, who effectively ended his presidential bid in May, said convention planners offered him the chance to speak under the conditions that he deliver a speech pre-approved by Romney's campaign, and that he give a "full-fledged" endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor.
While Paul will not likely speak at the RNC, the Romney campaign has reportedly agreed to a request from Paul's supporters to pay tribute to the congressman in a short film that will be screened during the convention.
Paul, who still has several hundred delegates pledging support to him due to his small-government views, earned 177 delegates through primaries and caucuses, according to an Associated Press count.
While GOP officials delayed RNC activities until Tuesday afternoon because the approaching tropical storm Isaac was expected to turn into a hurricane, Paul decided to go ahead with his own rally on Sunday. Many delegates from Minnesota, who accuse the Romney campaign and the RNC of a power grab, attended the rally.
"I think this storm is to Tampa like a blizzard might be to Minnesota," Marianne Stebbins, the chairwoman of the Minnesota RNC delegation, told Minnesota Public Radio while on her way to the event. "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."
Stebbins said she expected Paul supporters to fill the Sun Dome's 11,000 seats to celebrate his campaign. "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."
The libertarian congressman's campaign had earlier threatened to bring as many as 500 supportive delegates to Tampa to make his presence noticeable and influence the direction of the Republican Party. Paul believes in a non-interventionist foreign policy and decriminalizing drugs, and says government should not have a role in some of the conservative social causes.