RNC Evening Session August 28
Exclusive to the LEHIGH ACRES GAZETTE
From Dick Allen, Political Analyst of Chicago, IL
I did get a men’s room break, a tube steak dinner, a Diet Pepsi, and half a dozen interviews with delegates and alternates. I made a beeline towards Florida delegation, hoping to score anyone from Lehigh Acres. The Chamber of Commerce will be disappointed to learn that there were more questioned looks on faces when I said Lehigh Acres. Then, I struck fool’s gold. I ran into a guy named Lee and when I mentioned Lehigh he smiles. He said he was from Fort Myers and knew where Lehigh was, never been there, doesn’t plan to go there, but he did brag about being the chairman of the Lee County Republican Executive Committee. The Chamber has quite a job to do! I asked him if he knew of any delegates from Lehigh Acres. He told me this was his very first convention, and politely answered my question, “no, I don’t think so”. He then was tugged in another direction.
As I continued interviewing Florida delegates I learned that many of them were chairman of their county Republican Executive Committees, State Committee men and women, and I just couldn’t run into ”Joe the Plumber”. So my search was over. I did learn that the Florida delegation was staying at the Innisbrook Golf Resort, 45 minutes away from the convention center in Tarpon Springs. Sounds nice, but I can walk back to the Sheraton.
The evening session started not quite as promptly as the afternoon one did. But it was exciting especially when the Oak Ridge Boys took the stage. I expected a lot more witty one-liners this evening. What I got was a dose of speakers telling us their personal stories about the great American dream centered around the theme of the day: “We built it”. From the senator from New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte who spoke about her family starting a snow plowing and landscaping business in their living room and building it themselves, to former Sen.Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania who received a warm standing ovation and spoke about his and his families early struggles and successes. They pounded on the theme, We Built It. He spoke of the ladder of success: strong families, education, and hard work and said with conviction, “We can restore the American dream”. He mesmerized the delegates when he began speaking of his daughter Bella, and received a standing ovation when he said, “That he was proud to be a member of the party that reaches out their hands in love, to lift up all of Gods children, born and unborn”.
I was then taken back by a former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis from Alabama. He was a former congressman, member of the Democratic Party, and during the last election, was a strong Obama supporter. He was an imposing black man whose message was obviously aimed at the television audience. “Things that began with plywood Greek columns and artificial smoke typically don’t end well,” he said. He portrayed the image of the president as hundreds of thousands of black voters had portrayed him. ”We Saw him with a halo”, Davis continued.
But the night belonged to someone that nobody saw coming, Ann Romney! I expected the warm welcome the delegates gave her. What I didn’t expect was the next several minutes. She told us she wanted to speak from the heart. And that is exactly what she did. I’m certain the TV stations will be playing excerpts of this one for quite some time. What she did tell us was a love story. A love story about her family of five boys and 18 grandchildren. She spoke of her early days, falling in love with and marrying Mitt. She told us about the good times and the bad times that included her bout with breast cancer and MS. She related to every women in the building and every man knew she was telling it like it was. She called theirs a “real marriage”. I saw delegates with tears in their eyes as she opened her heart. “This is important. I want you to hear what I have to say. Mitt doesn’t like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point”, she said, and the building erupted. It was like she was in front of you looking at you directly in your eye when she said, “I will make you a solemn commitment. This man will not fail.”
They could have gaveled the session closed at that point and no one would’ve been disappointed. But the big gun was next on stage, Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey was ready to top off the evening. All night delegates I spoke to were looking forward to his message. He was the guy that was going to give Obama the black eye. The New Jersey Delegates told me that this big guy would chew the President up and spit him out in little pieces and watch the convention go nuts.
I don’t mean to say he was a disappointment, but Obama and his tele-a-prompter would’ve had great difficulty following Ann. I felt Christie spent a lot of time talking about himself and what he did and spent very little time punching Obama in the face. However, he did draw several differences between the two parties, defining what Republicans and Democrats stood for. His largest applause came when he was talking about education and said “Democrats believe in unions and Republicans believe in teachers”. He scored again when he talked about leadership. ”Leadership counts. Leadership matters,” he said, “You see Mr. President – real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls,” he continued. That’s the punch line you’ll see on television.
As the gavel fell shortly after 11 PM, delegates were still talking about Ann Romney’s message. They were excited about tomorrow’s program. I was told a video with the two Bush Presidents, Mike Huckabee, Condoleezza Rice, and Vice President nominee Paul Ryan, along with a host of others are preparing to blow the roof off the building.
I can hardly wait!