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Ron Paul gets his moment as torch passes to son Rand


TAMPA, Fla. -- The Republican National Convention played host Wednesday evening to a tribute to Rep. Ron Paul, and signaled a potential passing of the torch to his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul did not speak at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., but a pre-produced video was shown in his absence.

Though the retiring Texas congressman was not in attendance for tonight's tribute, a series of lawmakers participated in a video toasting the career of Ron Paul, whose supporters have been a noticeable presence at the convention.

"Whether people want to admit it or not, Ron Paul changed the conversation," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in the video.

Acolytes of Paul's brand of libertarian conservatism appeared as well, including Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Reps. Jimmy Duncan of Tennessee, Justin Amash of Michigan and Walter Jones of North Carolina. Ron Paul and his wife appeared as well.

Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., criticizes President Obama for "punishing" the upper class while he delivers a speech at the Republican National Convention.

The Romney campaign had assented to the tribute as part of an overall effort to placate dedicated supporters of Paul, a two-time presidential candidate who sought to win enough delegates in a sufficient number of states to at least have his name put forth for nomination.

That effort prompted rules changes at the outset of this convention aimed at guarding against similar efforts to use the arcane delegate allocation rules to a grass-roots candidate's advantage.

But while the elder Paul appears set to exit the national stage, his son, Rand, appears poised to at least inherit supporters of his father, if not grow that coalition.

Rand Paul was welcomed to thunderous applause by supporters, some of whom chanted his name at the conclusion of the speech.

His speech continued the Republican "You Didn't Build That" attack, but featured one of the most forceful rebukes of President Barack Obama's health care reform law.

"I think if James Madison himself -- the father of the Constitution -- were here today he would agree with me: The whole damn thing is still unconstitutional!" he said.

Like his father, Rand Paul also broke with some Republican orthodoxies on foreign policy on a night set to feature some high-profile attacks on the Obama administration's national security record.

"Republicans must acknowledge that not every dollar spent on the military is necessary or well-spent," he said, drawing some cheers. (Many Republicans have sought to undo automatic defense spending cuts stipulated by the 2011 debt ceiling agreement.)

Rand Paul also won thunderous applause for warning against allowing curbs to civil rights in the name of national security.

"To thrive we must believe in ourselves again, and we must never -- never -- trade our liberty for any fleeting promise of security," he said.

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images

Republicans gather in Tampa, Florida to officially nominate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, as the party's candidates for the 2012 presidential election.