Republican activists and libertarian-leaning Ron Paul supporters have spent two tense days at the state GOP convention wrestling with complex feelings about one another.
In a speech to 2,000 GOP activists, Republican National Committeeman Jeff Johnson finally took on what has at times been a seething anger between the two factions.
“There’s a real, tension,” Johnson said. “You’re all talking about it, we’re all taking about it, practically every day.”
Johnson said the party has long had bitter and heated disagreements, whether it is over candidates, party rules or bedrock conservative issues.
“It’s not new, but it is real,” Johnson said. “And I know it’s really bothering people, sort of on both sides of the issue.”
Here’s an excerpt from Johnson’ speech, which prompted a rare standing ovation:
So I want to say something to both the Ron Paul lovers in the room and the Ron Paul haters in the room. And there’s a whole bunch of us, I would argue most of us, somewhere in between those groups.
To the Ron Paul lovers in the room, the ones who are here because of Ron Paul, you know what the chatter is, you know what the talk is, you know there is a lot of anger. Some of the anger is from people who have been sitting in those chairs for 20 years or 30 years doing hard work and are not here this year because you are here instead. So you have got to understand that anger. And you have to appreciate that anger. And the chatter is, fair or not ... they don’t care about the Republican Party, they are going to lose interest in a year, they are going to disappear, they are going to let someone else do the work, and then they aren’t even going to vote for Republicans. And it might not be fair, but a lot of people are saying that. And if that makes you mad, if that perception makes you mad, and I think it should, because it would make me mad, make sure it doesn’t happen, don’t disappear. If we are part of the Republican Party, then we all need to vote for Republicans in November.
For the Ron Paul haters in the room, and that’s a strong term, but it’s out there. For the folks who just want to purge the party of the Ron Paul people, the folks I hear say, 'Why can’t it just be like it was six or eight years ago?" My advice to you is: get over it.
There is no such thing as standing still. If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. If we don’t grow, we die as a party. When I look at the Ron Paul people and I see their enthusiasm and I see their passion and I see their ridiculous ability to organize and I say, thank God they are here and we should welcome them with our open arms and we should help them succeed.
Johnson then concluded: “Every single solitary alternate and delegate in this room can agree on these two things: We need to can (President) Barack Obama and fire (U.S. Sen.) Amy Klobuchar.”