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Ron Paul's swan song: Has he launched an enduring movement? (+video)

After three runs for the White House, US Rep. Ron Paul is retiring. Will his libertarian brand of Republican politics survive without him? A younger generation of elected officials and activists say it will.

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Leading that Senate effort is Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky, Ron Paul’s son and a libertarian who looks likely to be as annoying to establishment Republicans as his father was in the House. (Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, also from Kentucky, had endorsed Rand Paul’s primary opponent, so the younger Mr. Paul feels a special independence from the party line.)

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Rand Paul will not assume his father’s movement mantel – no one can do that, he says – but he is one of a growing number of younger elected officials eager to fight at least some of the same fights.

“Together we are changing the Republican Party from the bottom up,” says Rep. Justin Amash (R) of Michigan, first elected to the House of Representatives two years ago at age 30. “It’s our responsibility to grow it into the majority it can be.”

Another is Sen. Mike Lee (R) of Utah (the youngest member of the Senate), who ousted veteran Republican Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010.

South Carolina state Sen. Tom Davis (R) had the crowd (metaphorically, at least) grabbing for tar and feathers when he thundered that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is “a traitor and a dictator!”

“Ron Paul has pulled the curtain aside and said, ‘Look at what these people are doing,’ ” he said.

One policy area, Ron Paul acknowledges, will continue to keep most Republicans from supporting his cause: cutting the defense budget, refraining from overseas military action, and vastly reducing foreign aid – including to Israel.

Here in Tampa, some Paul supporters grumble that Republican convention rule-setters have put the squeeze on any influence Paul delegates might have had – even though Paul himself has said he wants no disruption.

The Republican National Convention seating chart shows the delegations from Nevada, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, and Oklahoma all located on the outer fringe of the convention floor, Politico reported Sunday. Each are states with significant Paul followings.
 
Paul himself might have had a formal speaking slot, but he rejected two requirements: that his speech be pre-approved and that he formally endorse Romney.

He refused, telling The New York Times, “It wouldn’t be my speech. That would undo everything I’ve done in the last 30 years. I don’t fully endorse him for president.”

Instead, the convention is scheduled to air a video tribute to Representative Paul, early Wednesday evening before the major speakers.

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