Having recently returned from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, I thought it would be worthwhile to share my convention notes with some personal experiences and perceptions.
I was honored to be chosen along with our First Selectman Jayme Stevenson to represent Connecticut as a delegate. Our state delegation was 25 delegates, 25 alternate delegates and 70 guests. Linda Tavlarios and Laurie Williamson also attended from Darien and my son Andrew was the alternate delegate aide. For those of us who love politics, it was a thrill.
The convention was scheduled to be 4 days long, but Hurricane Isaac shortened it to 3 days. Aside from some rain and some wind, we were grateful that Florida was spared the havoc Isaac caused elsewhere. The storm victims were on our mind throughout. We were gaveled in each night at 7.30 PM at the Convention Center in downtown Tampa. One of the first orders of business was to approve the party rules and platform. This was one of the few disappointments our delegation had with the convention. Connecticut Republicans support small government, individual liberty and personal responsibility and are not lock step with the National Republican Platform on social issues.
Next up was the state roll call vote to nominate Governor Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan to be the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. This was followed by a multitude of diverse speakers over three days. Most memorable in addition to Romney and Ryan were Mia Love, Governors Susanna Martinez, Chris Christie, and Scott Walker, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Ann Romney. A standout moment of the convention was the Wisconsin roll call vote. Gov. Scott Walker stood at the mike to announce the state delegate vote and received a spontaneous, emotional and lengthy standing ovation from the thousands in attendance. His success in redefining the rules and role of the state employee unions was honored with great enthusiasm. A very real dramatic moment, unscripted and totally heartfelt.
The notable speakers at the Tuesday session were Mia Love, Chris Christie and Ann Romney. Mia Love is the current mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah and candidate for US Congress. An African-American woman (and grad of U of Hartford) she spoke with passion about fiscal discipline, limited government and personal responsibility, values she learned from her immigrant parents. The crowd jumped to their feet in support. (Her speech on YouTube is worth checking out. All the speeches are available on YouTube.)
Ann Romney illuminated the personal side of Mitt Romney, stories and memories of a 43-year marriage and raising 5 sons together. She portrayed a true and equal partnership and revealed a warm, family man some folks do not see on the campaign trail.
Having met both Ann and Mitt Romney a number of times, I can say that they are engaging and compassionate in addition to being tremendously accomplished. Chris Christie, closing out the night, was pure Chris Christie, straightforward, no nonsense.
Gov. Christie reminded us that you can lead with bi-partisan support, successfully working across the aisle something he pointed out that Mitt Romney had also done with great success. General consensus among our delegation. Mia Love was the break-out star of the convention and Ann Romney should have closed out the night. Chris was great but Ann stole the show.
Highlights of the Wednesday night speaker line up: Susanna Martinez and Condoleezza Rice. Dr. Rice’s remarks were articulate and deeply intelligent, about the world and her personal background, mostly expected but a bit of the unexpected. She always impresses. Governor Susanna Martinez of New Mexico was refreshing, personally mesmerizing and had an unusual and honest partisan twist.
Further notes and observations…Security was much tighter than any airport. (the government has allotted $50 million to cover security for both conventions).
Clint Eastwood made our day, the crowd loved him. A constant refrain with many of the speakers was “We Did Build This” referring to Obama’s now famous quip that individuals did not build their businesses.
Texas sent 155 delegates (and 155 alternate delegates and 300 guests). The Texans stole the show wearing cowboy hats, cowboy boots and each day, a different shirt. One chap had on cowboy boots that were red/white and blue in stars and stripes. Priceless. The floor seating was dictated by how important the state and electoral votes are in November. Ohio and its 50+ delegates were front and center, prime seating. Connecticut delegation was in the back, near Texas and Minnesota.
We were very close to the VIP and broadcast booths and the crowds that flooded the floor at the end of each evening, making it hard to move.
Overall, the tone of the convention was one of jubilation. Delegates from every state were quite proud and enthusiastic to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. I was so pleased to have had the opportunity to attend. If you like politics and a little theatre added in, go to a national presidential convention. Either party. Gave me a further understanding of the political process and how lucky we are to live in the longest running democracy in the world.
Terrie Wood, a Republican, represents the 141st District, which includes Darien and Rowayton, in the State House.
She can be reached at email@example.com or 860.240.8778.