The fear and expectations dominated the days before the RNC started in Tampa. Day 1 was canceled thanks to Hurricane Isaac.
Day 2 I’d describe as exciting, energetic and emotional. I was engaged and thrilled to see all the people dressed in red shirts excited to nominate Mitt Romney. Getting into the Forum was easy but lots of fencing, guards and check points. Without credentials you couldnt get closer than 2 blocks. ” For the People” did not apply if those people didn’t have a credential. It’s the new world we live in I suppose.
I listened to the speeches – short and interesting at first, but laborious on the same message. Everyone seems to have a brother, uncle, mother or spouse who started a business. It became clear the message of the party was We Built It. A bash on Obama’s taken out of context quote that if you have a business you didn’t build it. I have owned my own business for almost 20 years, and have struggled over the last 4 – so this didn’t sit well with me.
Ann Romney stole the evening. Elegant with a slight down-home feel to her. Numerous times I found myself emotional and near tears (don’t tell anyone!).
Getting out of the Forum was terrible. No one was there to ask where to go, and people where standing in lines not sure what the line was for. I made my way past the huge group of people waiting for busses to find a cab. Another line – supposedly the cab line- was long and random cabs where coming with way too. Little frequency. I walked a mile or so away form the city and hailed a cab. i heard stories of long waits for busses; one where a kid on a skateboard and backpack rode by a loaded bus. All buses where held for 2 hours and people were told not to get off the buses.
Day 3 I found less exciting with the same theme getting boring. The speeches where slow – I was disappointed with John McCain’s speech and Condelisa Rice sounded Ike it was the 897 time she gave the same speech. Huckabee tried to be funny but his attempt fell flat. The schedule seemed to be switching up – speakers out of order from the schedule.
Paul Ryan – nominated Vice President candidate gave a good speech, one that took some time to get warmed up. Is it just me or does he look really young? He had a few moments of brilliance with different lines of his speech. His reference to his iPod playlists ranging from ACDC to Zepplin was a nice personal note. And the highlight was seeing his young sons trying to stay awake as his father gave his speech – a speech that started slow, but had a good pace and ended strong.
Getting out of the Forum was way better – completely different and great. People telling you where to go, what line to stand in. I found my way to a taxi line that was loading people into cabs quickly. I waited less than 5 minutes for my cab. As we left, the driver said hi to his boss who was directing the cabs and making sure they were following the rules. He was impressed with his boss.
Day 4 had more energy than Day 3. The crowds seemed bigger and more well dressed – which is hard to do with this crowd. Jeb Bush pleased the Floridian crowd but I thought his speech was too long; he had two other kids on stage with him that also spoke during his time. The Olympic athletes were awesome – the biggest cheer for Scott Hamilton and the chant of USA was inspiring. Clint Eastwood was a crowd pleaser but he was hard to hear. you would think he above anyone would understand the value of the microphone. Marco Rubio was inspiring and left me wishing there had been more like that; the Cuban reference was interesting.
Mitt Romney came out unlike all the others – from the back, walking the floor and shaking hands. I had hoped he would have come out with ACDC playing, but no. He did mention he liked his playlist better than Paul Ryan’s. Romney came across strong, genuine and confident. Sure of himself and sure of his desire to help the American people. “I want to help you and your family” was a strong statement and really hit home for me. I agreed that it was time for a businessman to lead us, not a lawyer, I appreciated his empathy with how hard I was working. I think it was a solid performance.
Then the end with so many balloons they could;t get them all out. The sounds of popping where loud, and at one point I could;t even see Romney, Ryan and family on the stage.
Getting a cab was as easy as the night before. Friendly people asking if I needed help, smiling people seemingly happy with being there and working. I felt the venue was small and food choices horrible. No alcohol and almost entirely fried foods, hot dogs and burgers. I bought a can of Coke for $2.50. An extremely small convention store. I bought a Romney button and an RNC cozzy holder and had to make to separate purchases, plus fill out a long donation form. I was disappointed there weren’tt any freebies or handouts; no posters, stickers or stuff to wave.
I felt the location and area where not very conducive for a conference like this.No hotels around the Forum and all activities miles away. I heard very little about parties; perhaps that was a delegation only thing? It would have been nice to walk out of the Forum and have a bunch of things happening. As it was I was 3 hours Forum door to my hotel door, and would get in around 2 am. Had I found a party to go to I would have been hard pressed to stay up any later to attend.
Leaving Tampa and the RNC, I’m curious how the DNC will compare. All in all the RNC was great. Talk of being American, and not democrat or republican, talk of enough blame too go around but time to fix the economy and create jobs. I’m inspired – will Charlotte inspire me? I’m not ready to call myself a republican but I do look good in red.