April 5, 2008 — It was festive but a little quiet at Gertrude's Restaurant Saturday for the V.I. Republican caucus.
With Arizona Sen. John McCain the party's presumptive presidential candidate, the election was really about who will be the nine delegates and six alternates to the Republican National Convention Sept. 1-4, 2008, in St. Paul, Minn., not which candidate they will support.
Signs for candidate Ron Paul, the Texas congressman, lined the road in front of the restaurant, and inside a light turnout of a dozen or so people heard candidates speak about why they should be selected to go to St. Paul. Party officials sat at a table on a small stage, moderating the speakers, making periodic announcements and manning teleconference equipment linking the caucuses on St. Croix and St. Thomas.
State GOP Chairman Herbert Schoenbohm played a recorded message from Paul, who had been scheduled to speak but had to cancel at the last minute. Paul gave his greetings to the people of the territory, apologized for being unable to make it and spoke for a bit about his libertarian principles.
"Sure we need to regulate," he said. "But we need to regulate the Federal Reserve, not the markets."
David "Fitz" James and father David James were there manning a table piled high with Ron Paul campaign supplies.
"I'm really more of a Libertarian," Fitz said. "The Republicans talk about smaller government, but Ron Paul is the only candidate who is really for smaller government."
State Committeewoman Lilliana Belardo de O'Neal said she planned to bring the message to the RNC that the Virgin Islands should not be ignored by the party. She supports McCain but would have been happy with any of the candidates this year.
State Committeeman Holland Redfield II said the Iraq war, the economy and the mood of the country made this year an uphill climb for the party
"We as Republicans have our hands full this year," he said. "The Democrats have not had a taste of water in years. They are motivated and want the White House back. McCain's burden is to impress upon the nation we cannot cut and run out of Afghanistan and Iraq; that the consequences would be far worse than staying there."
The party needs to "stick to our guns" on taxes and government regulation too, he said.
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