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Monday, August 27, 2012 - Page updated at 09:00 p.m.
Ron Paul supporters rally in Tampa, still lukewarm on Romney
By Jim Brunner
Seattle Times political reporter
TAMPA — Sarina Forbes knows the Republican National Convention this week is supposed to be about Mitt Romney's coronation as the GOP nominee.
But as a supporter of Texas Congressman Ron Paul, Forbes, one of 40 Washington delegates at the convention, still isn't ready to fall in line behind the party's nominee.
A Seattle nurse who works for Group Health, Forbes, 54, is one of five Washington delegates who pledged to Paul, and she spent Sunday with thousands of other Paul supporters at a rally at the University of South Florida's Sun Dome, a short drive from the official convention downtown.
"I don't know Romney's message. He has had so many messages," Forbes said.
The Tampa rally was a swan song for Paul, who didn't get a speaking slot at the Republican convention.
As winds and rain from Tropical Storm Isaac started to move in, the crowd inside didn't come close to filling the arena. But those who were there raucously cheered a long parade of speakers and even musical acts celebrating Paul's message of slashing government down to a size the Founding Fathers could appreciate.
Paul used the rally to lecture a party he thinks is too willing to intervene abroad, too timid when it comes to combating a monetary policy he sees as misguided, and too lax about preserving civil liberties.
"It made the paper in Washington that the revolution wasn't happening," Paul said. "Don't they only wish."
Paul, 77, ended active campaigning in June, but so far he hasn't endorsed Romney's candidacy. He didn't win a single state, but he amassed more than 175 delegates. He is leaving Congress after his 12th term expires this year.
At the rally, Paul backers chafed at the idea their presence in Florida was an unwanted distraction at a convention focused on saluting Romney.
Forbes, seated in a second-deck hospitality suite, said she remains convinced Paul could have had a shot at winning the GOP nomination if GOP leaders and the media had treated him fairly. That message was reinforced by speakers at the Paul-fest who decried Republican National Committee decisions to not seat some Paul delegates from Maine and Oklahoma.
While GOP leaders sometimes portray Paul supporters as interlopers, Forbes said she's been a Republican since she registered to vote.
"I believe I should be respected like the other Republicans," she said.
Earlier in the year, Forbes had said she'd support the Republican Party nominee for president, even if it wasn't Paul. But as of Sunday afternoon, she was wavering.
She knows she can't support President Obama. But will she vote for Romney in November?
"I don't know yet," she said. "I just don't know."
The Associated Press contributed.
Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or seattletimes.com">firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @Jim_Brunner.
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