Ron Paul declines speaking slot at Tampa after Romney demands preapproval, unqualified endorsement

The libertarian Republican presidential candidate says he’s declined an opportunity to speak at the Republican National Convention in Tampa because Mitt Romney’s campaign imposed two conditions on any Paul speech — that it be reviewed by the nominee-to-be’s team and that it include an endorsement without hesitation or reservation.

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

Pundits noted that the uncompromising attitude that has won Paul a national following also limits his clout within the GOP.

“Uncompromising and perfectly willing to operate on the margins of mainstream politics for decades, Ron Paul proved unable to take his liberty message to a broader audience,” Charlie Mahtesian wrote today in Politico. “Even this year, at the height of his national influence and popularity, the Texas congressman failed to win the popular vote in a single state and never seriously threatened to win the GOP nomination.”

But inside the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome, where Paul is holding a celebration of his candidacy today, supporters say Paul’s unyielding principles are why they love him. Jordan Page, a singer who has penned several ballads about the Texas congressman, called Paul “the one sane voice in a sea of madness.”

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