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Tea Party looks at organizing pre-RNC rally

TAMPA — There's another big rally being discussed for the eve of the Republican National Convention, this one involving the tea party and potential appearances by former GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain.

Unity Rally 2012 could take place in a parking lot outside Raymond James Stadium, though details were sketchy Thursday.

"It's all up in the air," Tampa Sports Authority spokeswoman Barbara Casey said. "We don't have a contract. … We don't have anything from them other than they were interested in doing this."

The convention's staff, which controls the stadium as one of the official event venues for the RNC, confirmed that organizers are clear to book the stadium. But neither the rally's organizers, Bachmann's congressional office nor the publicist for Cain's autobiography responded to inquiries from the Tampa Bay Times.

A website, unityrally2012.com, lists two dozen tea party and like-minded groups as sponsors. The rally would take place at 5 p.m. Aug. 26, the day before the convention begins. It is not clear whether the rally is free or a ticketed event, though the website accepts both one-time and monthly donations, which it says can be mailed to the Washington, D.C., address of TheTeaParty.net.

Along with Bachmann and Cain, the website lists Dustin Stockton of The Tea Party.net and Judson Phillips of the Tea Party Nation as rally speakers.

In an online message, rally organizers ask conservative groups "to set aside their differences and reunite behind a message of constitutionally limited government, personal responsibility and fiscal sanity."

"When the eyes of the world focus on Tampa, let the first thing they see be the Tea Party steadfastly refusing to let ourselves be defined by anything but the agenda that the American people overwhelmingly supported in 2010," the organizers' message says.

"If we turn out tens of thousands, our movement will survive," it concludes. "If we flop it will be all the establishment/media needs to ban us to political obscurity. We must rise above our disagreements and rivalries for the good of the movement at Unity Rally 2012."

With or without the tea party rally, Aug. 26 — the Sunday before the convention — is shaping up to be one of the busiest days of the week.

In St. Petersburg, the RNC itself is holding its official welcome event — a flashy private cocktail party with entertainment for about 20,000 members of the media, delegates and dignitaries — at Tropicana Field.

In Tampa, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is holding a free public rally at noon at the University of South Florida Sun Dome. A group of Paul supporters also is organizing Paul Festival 2012 at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403.

Other RNC news: charter buses,

pedal buses and alerts

. The Tampa City Council approved a $278,432 contract with SP Plus Gameday, the RNC's official transportation provider, to shuttle police officers working the convention. Local and out-of-town officers will meet at an undisclosed location for an initial briefing. Charter buses will take them to downtown staging areas and pick them up at the end of their shifts, returning them to the initial location for a debriefing. The money for the contract is coming from Tampa's $50 million federal grant for convention security.

. The City Council also approved a temporary ordinance allowing pedal buses on designated city streets during the convention. The Humana health care company plans to bring 20 eight-passenger pedal buses to the RNC to promote exercise and healthy living.

. Police Chief Jane Castor urged residents and businesses — especially those who will be downtown — to sign up for the city's Alert Tampa messaging system. Registering is "imperative," Castor said, so that the city can "quickly and effectively communicate (about) developing incidents" related to the convention. The alerts go to email addresses, cellphones and, in some cases, home phones. To sign up for the free service, go to tampagov.net/alerttampa or call (813) 231-6184.

Tea Party looks at organizing pre-RNC rally 07/19/12 [Last modified: Thursday, July 19, 2012 10:02pm]
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