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Jesse Ventura rallies Ron Paul supporters

Rivertowns Group photo by Mike Longaecker

MINNEAPOLIS -- Thousands of people filled the Target Center Tuesday, hoping to prove there was another Republican show in the Twin Cities.

As the Republican National Convention got into full swing in St. Paul, supporters of vanquished GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul rallied here, determined to keep his message alive.

The rally's slate included major political figures, including pundit Tucker Carlson, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.

The Target Center crowd roared for Ventura, who has made a political career of lambasting both Democrats and Republicans -- a prominent theme among rallygoers. During his speech, Ventura called on Paul supporters to join him in rejecting a two-party system.

"I wrote the book, 'Don't Start the Revolution Without Me.' Well, I'm here," said Ventura, elected in 1998 on the Reform Party ticket. "Let's get the revolution going."

Wearing a suit jacket over a yellow Navy Seals T-shirt -- complemented by jeans and sneakers -- the former governor fit the casual theme present Tuesday among many at the rally.

Ventura also teased another run at politics -- perhaps the presidency -- telling the crowd he would be watchful to see how the political world turns.

"I need to see it by action," he said. "And I will be watching."

Early evening outside the Target Center, action on the streets was tame -- a relief for police on alert after violent clashes with protesters on Monday.

"It's good for us," a patrol officer said.

As in St. Paul, rally attendees came from across the nation for the Paul event.

"I feel a deep return to liberty because of him and it gives me a lot of hope," said Fargo resident and North Dakota State University student Jennifer Riley. "This is a Republican that actually says something."

Paul, a Republican Texas congressman, was poised to urge attendees at the "Rally for the Republic" to remain focused on his core message.

Supporters say they intend to carry the torch of Paul's politics -- a Libertarian-tinged platform calling for a return to what supporters consider traditional GOP values -- to local levels.

Before the event began, hundreds of Paul loyalists lined First Avenue outside the Target Center, crying out the congressman's name to passing cars.

Philip Koury, an alternate RNC delegate from Easton, Pa., was among them. He criticized the party establishment for not embracing the Constitution in carrying out policy.

"They're not freedom-loving," Koury said.

Organizers staged the rally virtually on top of this week's Republican National Convention in hopes of drawing some attention from the massive Xcel Energy Center event.

Political pundit and rally speaker Carlson said the message being sent across the Mississippi River was one of principles, not votes.