Tea Party, Ron Paul Aim to Leave Mark at RNC

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TAMPA, Fla. -- The main story line at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week is unity, especially when it comes to the GOP's desire to defeat President Obama.

But the presence of thousands of protesters at a Ron Paul rally could frustrate that goal. The libertarian-leaning presidential candidate leads a loyal following, a following that represents a growing distrust of all politicians.

"The Republican Party has turned into the Democrat Party," Paul supporter Grace Skinner said. "They're all the same. They're not standing for freedom. They're not standing for the people. They're standing for bigger government. People don't matter anymore. We have to stand up against it."

Their message is being heard. The Republican Party platform will now include monetary goals like auditing the Federal Reserve and calling for a commission to study the idea of a gold standard.

"I wouldn't necessarily call it progress," Colorado voter Sean Johnson said. "I don't know if it's revolution or evolution, but it's getting back to our foundation to start with."

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told CBN News that any divisions within the party are overblown.

"I think that we are totally unified," Priebus said. "I just don't buy into this sort of division talk. I mean, we just got done with our platform."

"You didn't see a whole lot of fighting going on here in Tampa," he continued. "We've got a good deal and end result that we've put together with our friends on the Ron Paul campaign that we're actually pretty close to."

Libertarians aren't the only ones making noise this week. Conservative Christians are also present for this week's RNC and many support the Tea Party.

Conservative radio host Mike Gallagher acknowledged bringing the Tea Party and the GOP establishment together will be like walking through a mine field.

"You can have a good marriage here," Gallagher said. "You can have a great partnership. I think the establishment types need the Tea Party and the Tea Party needs the establishment in order to effect change, so it's a match made in Heaven."

The Tea Party faces a challenge of its own: Growing into a majority force on Capitol Hill in order to push their agenda. For now, they tend to be mainly a nuisance to Republican Party leaders who want to keep them in line.

But Tea Party leaders said they "demand" a place at the legislative table.

"These concepts -- taxed enough already, don't spend more than what you take in, and follow the constitution -- are now a part of the Republican Party platform thanks to the Tea Party," Rep. Michele Bachman, R-Minn., said.

One man who mixes well with the Tea Party is business tycoon Donald Trump, who was in Tampa to receive the Sarasota GOP statesman of the year award.

He told CBN News the GOP better take the Tea Party seriously.

"I think you have to be careful about ignoring the Tea Party, absolutely," Trump said. "You see a couple of races that just took place, Tea Party victories. The Tea Party is a tremendously powerful group of people. They love this country, and they want to see this country succeed."

No one really knows the political impact the Tea Party is going to eventually have. But one thing is for sure: with all of this talk about hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico at the GOP convention, the Tea Party is going end up either being a Category 1 or a Category 5.

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David Brody is an Emmy Award-winning veteran news journalist who has interviewed many prominent national figures during his career of nearly 25 years. Currently, David covers the White House and interviews national newsmakers across the country.  Follow David on Twitter @TheBrodyFile and "like" him at Facebook.com/TheBrodyFile.