Like their Democratic counterparts across town, Libertarians on Saturday cheered at the prospect of removing the sales tax from food.
Unlike the Democrats, they didn't hear from any of the party's state or congressional elected officials - because they don't have any.But that didn't stop several dozen delegates and interested observers from spending their Saturday afternoon dreaming of such a prospect, and sharing ideas on the best way to make the dream come true.
Former U.S. presidential candidate Ron Paul gave the keynote address and was frank in telling delegates, gathered at Bennion Elementary School, that part of the problem he sees with the party is the way it is perceived by voters looking for an alternative.
"It's up to us to make sure the American people don't believe that we endorse everything we legalize," he said. "We don't necessarily endorse what people choose, but the people's chance to make the choice."
Libertarians advocate limited government and greater personal responsibility, including privatization of government services and the legalization of drugs.
"We can't have government telling us how to take care of our minds or our bodies. It's up to us - we do have the responsibility and that goes rightly to the individual. As a result, some will do things that aren't too smart. But that's the price we pay for freedom," Paul said.
Still, he said, "the image of the party is critical. If the party is to grow, we have to make sure it's made strong . . . We must work on trying to couch what we are for in very positive terms . . . We will have to learn to use TV better, and learn how to make our ideas popular and spread them. We can't win any other way. We have to help voters understand, believe and endorse that our ideas are in their best interest."
Party Chairman Doug Jones said the party has 22 candidates for elective office in Utah this year. Many of them, including perpetual candidate Bob Waldrop, spoke briefly at the convention. Waldrop, a state senate hopeful now running his sixth campaign after five unsuccessful attempts at public office, said he hopes to raise enough money through selling snowcones, fireworks and holding garage sales to pique the interest of the national Libertarian Party.
Waldrop said he's "taken a page from the enemy's playbook" in determining that individual contact offers his best chance for victory.