Views From Tampa: Front Row Seat To History

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 83 views 

Rep. Duncan Baird of Lowell is unopposed for his third term in the House. He shares his thoughts on the final night of the GOP convention.

Thursday’s speakers at the Republican National Convention in Tampa continued to build on the themes of “We can do better,” “We built it” and “We believe in America.” The night included a surprise celebrity guest, the acceptance speech from presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and the traditional drop of balloons and confetti at the convention close.

A number of the day’s speakers discussed their personal experiences with Romney as a church member, neighbor and boss. While many of us know a great deal about his political and business experiences, these stories revealed a more compassionate and human side of Mitt Romney.

Rumor had it that Clint Eastwood would make a surprise appearance, which turned out to be true. The crowd was excited to see him, and this Hollywood celebrity was a nice change of pace from the stream of political celebrities.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was tasked with giving the introduction of Romney for his acceptance speech. Rubio spoke of the failures of Barack Obama, saying that although the President’s slogan is “Forward” his ideas have taken us “Backwards.”

With 68 days remaining until the general election, Romney walked through the crowd to the stage to accept the Republican nomination. He connected very well with those at the convention, with delegates rising to their feet and waving their signs over and over again. A line that received a very big response was, “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise…is to help you and your family.”

After many years of watching the convention on television, I was impressed by several things. The venue was very tall and expansive vertically, but no matter where you were you had a great view of the podium. The Arkansas delegation was seated about two-thirds of the way back from the stage to the speaker’s far left, but we still felt very close to those speaking.

The aisles were constantly full of delegates, dignitaries, news media and staff coming and going from the floor, walking around, or just standing. Those with floor access could walk all the way up to the base of the stage, even while someone was speaking.

As expected, we ran into famous political leaders and media personalities all over the convention center (not just on the floor), and they were generally happy to stop for a picture.

We knew it was all over when the music stopped playing and the prayer was given. I reached down and picked up a handful of confetti, a busted balloon, a bent sign, and headed towards the door. It didn’t really matter if you were a delegate, alternate or guest. If you were at the 2012 Republican National Convention, you had a front row seat to history being made.