Apr 062008
Authors: Tim Maddocks

Fort Collins resident Bob Gleason stood on the northwest corner of Mulberry Street and College Avenue Friday between two men in banyans, breeches and folded hats playing colonial tunes on the drum and fife — all in support of Ron Paul, the sole long-shot contender to John McCain’s hold of the GOP endorsement.

Gleason and about 20 other people donned big red and blue Ron Paul signs, keeping the faith that the fringe candidate, who refused to drop out of the race when John McCain received backing from more than half of the delegates for the Republican nomination, is still capable of winning the nomination.

Paul supporters remain steadfast in a belief that while McCain has distanced himself, Paul still has a chance at the Republican National Convention. McCain has won over 1,300 delegates while Paul has only 21. But McCain will still need to win a majority of the delegates at the national convention.

Carl Bruning, state coordinator for the Ron Paul Group, said the rally was to remind Fort Collins that Ron Paul is still in the race.

“It’s absolutely a possibility for Dr. Paul to win,” Bruning said. “McCain doesn’t have all the delegates. There’s lots of things that can happen between now and then. We did very well in Colorado; we did very well in other states, and we’ll have substantial delegates at the national convention.”

But student political leaders disagreed.

“I think (Paul) has no actual shot at winning the Republican nomination,” said Bobby Carson, the editor-in-chief of the Ram Republic, a student-run conservative newsletter at CSU. “McCain has solidified his position — he’s good to go … But you got to hand it to the Ron Paul supporters, their grassroots campaign, his candidacy, his efforts will shape the future of the Libertarian party.”

The street-corner rally was comprised of the 561st and 771st Patriot Groups, which epitomize the Ron Paul grassroots campaign.

Gleason, 44, joined the 110-member 561st Patriot Group only five months ago. He hasn’t voted for many years because of frustration with the political process. But when he learned of what he called Paul’s message of freedom, liberty, and the Constitution, he joined the online Ron Paul Group.

“There’s a very real passing of the torch, right now, from the Internet to the streets,” Gleason said.

Meet-up groups are formed on Meetup.com allowing anyone to become a member. The groups can organize meetings and rallies and discuss campaign topics.

Chris Yankowski, 33, became aware of Paul last year, and became fond of his message of civil liberties.

Yankowski said, “Dr. Paul cured my apathy.”

Then early last summer Yankowski founded the 561st Patriot Group through Meetup.com. They’ve held over 20 street-corner rallies since July, but the last few rallies have been to raise awareness that Paul is still running.

Ron Paul has more Meet-up groups than all other candidates combined. He has 1,519 groups, while Barack Obama has the second most with 104.

Staff writer Tim Maddocks can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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