GOP Maverick Paul Shunned in Spartanburg

By JASON SPENCER, jason.spencer@shj.com
Published July 4, 2007
Original Story Here

Like a gunslinger from the Old West, Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul hasn't backed down from a fight - even though the fight, at times, backs down from him.

When Paul, a Texas congressman, defended an explanation of the 9/11 attacks known as "blowback" - that American intervention in foreign affairs as far back as 1953 was, in part, a catalyst for the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil a half-century later - at the GOP debate in Columbia this year, the crowd seethed.

Paul's position prompted an indignant response from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who received rounds of applause. It was one of the few heated debate moments so far.

But when Spartanburg County Republican Party Chairman Rick Beltram left Columbia that night, he decided he'd heard enough of Paul's largely libertarian views. He decided to boycott Paul from any future county party events.

"He can stay home," said Beltram, who for months held that this county would welcome all Republican candidates.

"Well, the door's closed for him."

Paul, 71, is used to being excluded because of his views.

In 1988, he was the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate. The 10-term congressman has voted against such championed Republican causes as the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq. And because of his different philosophical points of view, Paul has contributed more varied responses to the discussion amongst Republican candidates than other lesser-knowns, like former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson or former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.

Even though Paul typically polls between 1 percent and 2 percent nationally in the race for the GOP nomination, he left the Columbia debate ranked second by a Fox News text-message poll.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was first, four points ahead of Paul with 29 percent of that vote. Giuliani was third with 19 percent.

Of the 10 declared Republican candidates, Paul and Thompson are the only two who have not visited Spartanburg at least once.

Paul plans to visit anyway

But despite what Beltram says, the Paul campaign is planning visits across the Palmetto State, including the Upstate.

"South Carolinians are a little slow to embrace what Ron is saying about foreign policy. And those are good things, that South Carolinians are loyal and love their country," said Jesse Benton, a spokesman for the Paul camp.

But "it's a phenomenon around the country that people are starting to wake up to. Even the most loyal conservatives who want to stay loyal to the president are starting to realize that this war is a folly. The people of South Carolina who elected President Bush did so on a humble foreign policy, where we don't police the world."

As for Beltram's boycott: "It's a little bit of a shame. The county party apparatus is there to help Republicans hear from all the candidates. For them to start selecting out candidates at this point is premature and not the proper course of action," Benton said.

"Ron and Rick Beltram would have a lot to talk about."

Perhaps.

Paul is an advocate for low taxes and less government, and he's against abortion.

And this is a state that put Mark Sanford, who also has been described as libertarian-leaning, first in Congress and then twice in the Governor's Mansion.

"The governor and Congressman Paul voted together a number of times in Congress," Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer stated in an e-mail to the Herald-Journal. But "the governor is staying out of the primary, and isn't going to get into talking about what individual candidates are saying in these forums."

Paul's positions on immigration - he is against amnesty, and is adamant about securing America's borders - and opposition to free-trade agreements should play well here, too, said 25-year-old Gary Coats, a Paul supporter who also favors Sanford.

"He is consistently trying to shrink the government, or prevent the government from becoming more powerful, and to give the states their rights," Coats, of Boiling Springs, said.

Beyond traditional Republican limited-government beliefs, though, Paul also calls extraneous most federal departments created in the last century - including the Department of Energy, the Department of Education and the Department of Homeland Security.

And he's sticking to his guns about 9/11 and blowback:

"Giuliani was demagoguing the issue and was trying to claim I was unpatriotic by finding out why people are anxious to harm us. I think logical people would say, 'That makes a lot of sense to me.' You need to find motives why people kill. If you're looking for a murderer, you always look for the motive," Paul said in a phone interview this week.

And despite being well behind in the polls - and fundraising - Paul is counting on a solid philosophic base turning out to support him in South Carolina.

"People have been converted to these views because they instinctively know they're right, and they believe in the Constitution," he said. "The people in South Carolina have that instinct, and they elected somebody who is very libertarian, and I think those people will automatically gravitate toward our campaign."

Cold shoulder from county party

In Spartanburg, though, Paul will have to seek out those people without the assistance of the county party.

"I'm not going to extend him an invitation to come here because he has managed to insult and in many ways abuse Republican activists with his strident lingo. When he attacked Bush, that we created 9/11 - that's an absolute lunatic talking," Beltram said.

"I can't put up walls to keep him out, but I don't have to invite him here to a county function."

Paul says that won't stop him.

"It's the control by the political establishment to want to exclude the viewpoints, which many people consider telling the truth, and that's sort of a reflection of people like (Beltram). They don't want to hear it, so the best thing to do is exclude it," he said.

"But there's a limit as to how much they can do to silence us."

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My email to Mr Beltram

Mr Beltram;

I just read your proposal to let Dr Ron Paul have a conversation with those in your district. I obviously don't speak for Dr Paul, but I personally would like to thank you for offering. I truly hope to God that he accepts this offer, as it's both nice and potentially very positive for his campaign.

Just so you know I'm not some spammer in a basement with pimples, I am actually a 40 year old father of 2 boys(6 and 8). I too supported President Bush in 2000 and believed him when he said we'd have a humble foreign policy. I too, like many Republicans, threw that wisdom out the door on 9/11 and supported the eventual invasion of Iraq.

It took me almost a year to realize what a HUGE mistake it was. And maybe another 6 months before I started getting vocal about it. Then I started realizing that President Bush and his cabinet really have NOTHING whatsoever in common with me. They want open borders, expansion of just about every level of government, invasion of my privacy, and a complete lack of understanding of the Constitution.

But really it comes down to my two boys. In 10 years my oldest will be eligible for the draft and I have no doubt whatsoever that if we continue on the path we are upon, that my son will be fighting and possibly dying on some desert battlefield, all in the name of oil and expansion of the empire. I won't let that happen and is one of dozens of reasons I'm supporting Dr Paul.

I was literally standing in a muddy bean field Tuesday night(july 3rd) putting up signs in support of Dr Paul, that is the level of support I'm willing to give to this man, along with 10 others covering literally the entire spectrum of the demographic. What brings us all together is our love of the Constitution. We are an old black woman, a liberal, several libertarians, mostly disgruntled Republican's. This is just one small county in Ohio, this phenomenon is being replicated across the country and is growing daily...

Thank you for being open minded, that is all anyone can ask. If you listen and decide not to support us, then all I can say is... Thanks and good luck.. And may the best man(woman) win

Robert NW Ohio
"The freedom tree is watered by the blood of both patriots and tyrants alike".........."time to water the tree"..Authors Unkn

MONEY IS NOT THE PURVIEW OF THE SOVEREIGN OR THE BANKING ELITES.... MONEY BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE...FREE THE MONEY!! Member for 4 years and 3 months :) :)

My email response to Rick Beltram

Response to RP's Spartanburg Shaft (maybe not anymore)...

In response to your response (which was posted on www.dailypaul.com),

While I cannot personally vouch for the man myself, the way I see it, Ron Paul's delay in courting the favor of the County of Spartanburg represents his superior dedication to his Congressional duties over that of the other candidates (or their respective gubernatorial duties). It is sad that you view your county in such a centric manner, as if it were above all others. Dr. Paul has his district with which to concern himself, you know. I interpret what you expressed as Paul demonstrating a calculated and well thought out approach to campaigning on an honest budget devoid of corporate-interest cash. I love your challenge, however, and I am extremely confident that it will be met. I am personally working on trying to convince my father to attend, who recently moved just north of Charleston (Mount Pleasant), but I doubt he will be a Ron Paul fanatic by your proposed deadline. As a native Pennsylvanian, I doubt I'll make it, but I'll try since I have SC family now.

I'm also very upset that you took Dr. Paul's statement in the debate to be an 'attack on the current administration.' You are pigeonholing a criticism which Dr. Paul repeatedly expressed has been a failing of ALL administrations of the past 50-60 years, the current one included (this is election time, expect critiques).

I appreciate your effort to read all of the RP mail. Hope this one wasn't too long. Where exactly is Spartanburg, anyway? How far from Charleston?

Shunned in SC

Send Jason Spencer email thanking him for his balanced article. It was actually very good reporting. Not much of that anymore.

Opportunity?

Could this be yet another opportunity for Dr. Paul to make a big splash and turn more lemons into lemonade? It just seems to keep happening! This campaign seems somehow blessed with that type of luck. It's very exciting from my point of view as an interested spectator, fan, and supporter.

I say go for it! Those people in South Carolina need to hear the message. And there should be appropriate media alerts, of course. This could result in more national face time for Dr. Paul on the networks. And possibly a lot more...

God bless Ron Paul!

This is on the unofficial Ron Paul 2008 Blog

Thursday, July 5, 2007
Response from Rick Beltram

It was reported here and on the Ron Paul website and the Ron Paul forums yesterday that Rick Beltram, GOP Party Chairman of Spartanburg County, SC threatens to boycott Ron Paul from any of his county’s Republican Party events, after earlier saying that he would “welcome all Republicans.”

This prompted many RP supporters to flood his phones lines (864-542-1992) and email inbox (rick.beltram@intedge.com) with protests.

This morning I received the following email from Rick Beltram:

FOLKS:

I certainly appreciate the HUGE number of e-mails from about 8AM yesterday until 9AM today. I also received a significant number of calls to our Party HQ! I can easily see that is has been a nation-wide effort to contact me.
Some of you seem to already know me, through family members or my education background! I thank you for your sincere comments!

I attempted to response to as many as I could before we had our 4th of July celebration at my home!

Most of your comments were polite and well articulated! Positive dialogue is very important to all concerned.

As the GOP Chairman of Spartanburg County (since 1999), we have managed to be the most "high-profile" County GOP organization in the SC! We have succeeded at the ballot every election cycle over the past 10 years (even in 2006). Since, SC is a early primary state, we are fortunate to receive a vast amount of national attention. This job is a VOLUNTEER job and many times takes away from my paying job. (Foodservice equipment manufacturer)

We have had potential or actual 2008 GOP Presidential candidates coming to our County since February 2005. Many of them SEVERAL times! We have actually met 9 of the 11 current candidates and two (Frist and Pataki) who decided not to run! We have shown all of them a FIRST CLASS welcome!

The remaining two (Tommy Thompson and Ron Paul) have not been here even one time. Since the UPSTATE of SC is the key to the nomination, we are puzzled! We did contact both of these campaigns and the Thompson campaign advised us that they were concentrating on Iowa and not to expect them except for the May debate!

WE ATTEMPTED TO CONTACT THE PAUL campaign numerous with NO RESPONSE. Our neighbors in Greenville were equally frustrated! We have had huge public events including a caucus night where we had a LIVE straw poll on "Hannity and Colmes" 03/01/07). We had no support for Ron Paul.

We then had our County Convention on 04/21/07 and had no response from the Paul campaign although 7 candidates did come and make a presentation!

The first that MOST of us had any contact with Dr. Paul was at the State Debate on May 17th.

AND:

What we heard was a complete "slam" at the current administration and blaming US for the 9/11 horrific acts!
This type of RHETORIC cannot be tolerated! Many of our local activists called me also during the "wild 4th" and complemented me on my most candid and accurate comments in the SHJ!

HOWEVER:

Many of YOU felt as if.....WE had completely MISUNDERSTOOD the comments........

IF SO......we have an opportunity for all of YOU and the NATION as a WHOLE!

CHALLENGE:

We, the Spartanburg County GOP will hold a low cost event (cover charge) for attendees to have a PUBLIC Q&A with DR. PAUL here in Spartanburg, SC.
NO OTHER CANDIDATES!!
THIS WILL BE YOUR TIME to convince us that have incorrect information about Dr. Paul's political platform!
This will cost your campaign 0 dollars....except for the cost to get Dr.
Paul to Spartanburg and if any overnight accommodations are needed!

FORMAT:

10 minute opening presentation by Dr. Paul

12 questions from the audience (to be pre-screened by us and your campaign)

Meet and greet

Total: one hour

We would expect huge media coverage as we have gotten plenty of attention for our prior events and our electorate is a "microcosm" of the RED states!

One stipulation.....we need to do this BEFORE AUGUST 15th.....after that we have many pre-planned events to include multiple candidates.

Golden opportunity...

I'd think this is a great opportunity for Dr. Paul. If he has an entire ten minutes (as stated) to clarify his position, and all the books he recommended to Rudy G. on hand, he could make an irrefutable case. That being said, it sounds a little too easy considering how insulted Mr. Beltram was. It sounds like a setup, but RP should have no problem overcoming it.

Impressive

I’m very impressed with their middle ground compromise and I hope that we can get confirmation from the official campaign that they’re going to accept this offer.

They have the correct information

Sounds as if the "plan" is to have Dr Paul do a nationally televised flip flop, as Beltram insists, "this kind of rhetoric can not be tolerated", meaning congressman Ron Paul's stand on the issue of the current administrations foreign policy. I'd send that email invitation to all the news sources. Breaking News, South Carolina invites congressman Dr. Ron Paul to private "HUGE MEDIA" public event.