Ron Paul Takes Up Beltram's ChallengeSubmitted by retrorepublican on Fri, 07/06/2007 - 16:39
Beltram tells Paul to 'come on down' here
By ROBERT W. DALTON, firstname.lastname@example.org
So much for that whole closed door thing.
Two days after saying Ron Paul could stay out of Spartanburg, county GOP Chairman Rick Beltram on Thursday reversed course and invited the Republican presidential candidate to come on down.
And Thursday afternoon, Paul's campaign agreed. The only thing left to be settled is a date.
Beltram on Tuesday called Paul a "lunatic" for defending a theory that American intervention in foreign affairs contributed to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. Paul made the comments at the GOP debate in Columbia in May, and he drew an angry response from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
After the debate, Beltram decided he had heard enough from the Texas congressman and said Paul could "stay home." A flood of e-mails and voicemails from across the country apparently changed Beltram's mind.
"I was told by at least 125 e-mails and 25 voice mails that I didn't hear correctly, newspapers didn't report it correctly and live TV didn't reflect it correctly," Beltram said. "If we're all that naive and we all misunderstood, I think they should come on down and tell us how we're wrong, and I think the people of Spartanburg will be anxious to listen."
Beltram, in an e-mail, proposed that Paul open his Spartanburg visit with a 10-minute presentation and then take 12 questions from the audience. Jesse Benton, a spokesman for Paul's campaign, said the format would be worked out after a date was set.
Benton said the campaign was "pleased" to receive Beltram's invitation.
"It's a very good thing," Benton said. "Dr. Paul will be able to share his vision of limited government and lower taxes in the Upstate."
Robert Lewis Sr. of Jackson, N.J., one of the participants in the e-mail barrage, said the invitation was overdue. Lewis said in a telephone interview that all Paul wants is a "fair shake."
"He's a stand-up guy," Lewis said. "Some of his opinions and positions, some people feel are a little unique. But there's never been anything on Ron Paul doing anything illegal or unethical. All he's asking for is a fair opportunity to be elected, and I think people feel threatened by that."