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Ron Paul, Karl Rove in Rochester for state GOP convention

By Matthew Stolle

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

When Republicans gather in Rochester on Thursday for the start of their three-day state convention, a series of dramas will make this year’s convention something more than a three-day speechfest.

The convention will be held at Mayo Civic Center Thursday through Saturday. An estimated 3,000 people are expected to attend.

  • Presidential candidate Ron Paul will crash the party. The Texas congressman plans on speaking to his supporters Friday morning in Rochester before the convention starts in a bid to win the backing of national delegates, 14 of whom are up for grabs at the state convention.

Although Paul won only 16 percent of the vote during the Feb. 5 caucuses, he has been aggressively courting delegates in the state. One report had him with seven or eight delegates of MInnesota’s 38 delegates to the national convention.
"He is probably trying to get sufficient support to be able to speak at the national convention," said Duane Quam, chairman of the First Congressional District. "We’re one of the few conventions that there would be a possibility of picking up a delegate here and there."

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  • State Republican leaders plan to use the convention as a platform to promote the candidacies of Sen. Norm Coleman, who likely will face Democrat Al-Franken, and congressional candidate Brian Davis, who has the party’s endorsement to face DFL Rep. Tim Walz of Mankato but will face a primary challenge from Sen. Dick Day of Owatonna.
  • At a time when the national Republican leaders are warning of a potential disaster at the polls in November, many Republicans are debating how to restore and refurbish the GOP’s brand. U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn is one of two national figures who will address the state convention. The other is Karl Rove, the political strategist and architect behind President Bush’s presidential electoral victories. He will speak Saturday.

Coburn, who will speak Thursday, has been warning national Republican leaders that the party is in state of denial and paralysis. Recently, in an article in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, Coburn said big-government Republicanism and failed experiments like "compassionate conservatism" have caused the party to stray from its philosophical roots.
"Being a Republican isn’t good enough anymore. Voters are tired of buying a GOP package and finding a big-government, liberal agenda inside. What we need is not advertising, but truth in advertising," Coburn wrote.

For more information, go to Postbulletin.com/weblinks.

Minnesota State Republican Convention http://www.mngop.com/stateconvention2008/

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