GOP establishment tries to prevent Ron Paul supporters from coming to Republican convention

Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Congressman Ron Paul, cheer during a rally outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 22, 2012 (Reuters/Mark Makela)
Supporters of presidential hopeful Ron Paul plan to hold a massive rally in Tampa, Florida on the eve of the upcoming Republican National Convention, but festival organizers say the state GOP is generating problems for the proposed event.

As it stands now, PaulFest is scheduled for August 24-26 at the Florida State Fairgrounds. With only a little more than two months until then, though, organizers are up in arms over an alleged lack of cooperation on the part of state officials in charge of issuing a permit.

PaulFest spokesman Bryan Siemon tells reporters that backers of the candidate hope to have bands, comedians and speakers booked for the upcoming event, but will be left with little time to put things together if they aren’t authorized to host the rally in time.

"We have a timeline," says Siemon. "If we can't get this date secured, it will make it impossible to put on a festival of this large size."

"By delaying the release," PaulFest organizer Deborah Robinet pleads in a press release, "the Republican leadership is actually denying conference organizers sufficient time to plan the event.”

Estimates for attendance at PaulFest range from a modest 10,000 to as many as 100,000, which Robinet says could be likely. Given the amount of those expected to make the trip then, Robinet says she can’t help but question why the RNC is waiting so long to make a decision.

“They’ve been fighting us all along,” Robinet adds to The Tampa Bay Times. “We’re Republicans. Do they want to alienate us, or do they want to bring us into the fold?”

PaulFest planners say it’s no coincidence that they are be giving the run around, though: organizers of the Republican National Convention are in charge of deciding on who can use the fairgrounds during the week of the RNC. Following the bowing out of GOP candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) is the only Republican Party candidate standing in the way of the GOP’s presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney.

In recent weeks, a rift between sects of the Republican Party has only widened and tensions are high between supporters of both candidates. During this past weekend’s state GOP convention in Louisiana, a disagreement between delegates aligned with Rep. Paul and the rest of the party ended with both arrests and injuries.

"There isn't another event that has been requested (for the fairgrounds), and we've been negotiating since early March, so it does seem as if our plans are being stalled to make it more difficult for us to hold the festival we want to hold in Tampa," fellow festival organizer Susan Wolfe tells The Tampa Tribune.

Members of the RNC say it isn’t so black and white, though. According to convention organizers, they will consider issuing a permit for PaulFest when the time is right and dismiss claims that the rally for the libertarian lawmaker is the only event they have to deal with right now.

“We do have the request," RNC spokesman James Davis tells the Associated Press. "We have an extraordinary amount for requests for the venues we do have. We're going through and making assignments and no one has turned down any assignment yet."

"We're still in the process of going through and making those assignments on a rolling basis," Davis adds. "We have not turned anyone down at this point. We're trying to make all the accommodations we can."