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Keeping the Faith at PAUL Fest

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

While the GOP continues grappling with Tropical Storm Isaac, battle-hardened supporters of dark-horse presidential hopeful Ron Paul who made the trek to Tampa, Fla., continued about their business: upending our deeply flawed government.

There were only a handful of true believers still milling about the People Awakening and Uniting for Liberty Festival this morning. Most folks were already pulling up stakes and heading over to the official rally for the Texas Republican, a daylong affair overtaking the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome.

Paul and his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), are expected to say a few words to the “We Are the Future” crowd at around 4 p.m.

The PAUL Festival lot was still dotted with a host of out-of-town tags (Ohio, Kansas and Pennsylvania were all represented). A wall-sized mural of the man featured impassioned signatories from even farther way.

We spotted heartfelt messages attributed to travelers from New Mexico, Maine and even Ireland: “We will always be with you. We will fight until we win,” one scribbled. “You have cured my apathy! 1st time voter @ 33 & GA delegate,” another scrawled. Our fave, however, had to be this endearing missive from a younger fan.

Vendors ranged from Libertarian filmmakers (the second installment of “Atlas Shrugged” hits theaters this fall) and novelty T-shirt purveyors …

Ron Paul t-shirt at PAUL Fest
(Warren Rojas/CQRC)

… to armchair metallurgists instructing Federal Reserve haters how to cast their own gold bars/ingots/jewelry and savvy traders willing to offer sweetheart deals (and hugs!) to those willing to part with real silver.

None of the attendees we chatted with appeared overly upset that Paul had skipped the gathering entirely.

“You can’t be everywhere at once,” rationalized one grass-roots activist who had made the haul from northeast Ohio to commune with friends.

Others, however, seemed more noticeably desperate.

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