Day One at the 2012 Republican National Convention

Sunday evening August 26th 2012---in Tampa. It is cloudy, muggy, and 79 degrees. It’s drizzling but no hurricane yet!

We saw Herman Cain at the Tampa International Airport yesterday while we were waiting for our luggage. He was surrounded by a group of about 15 people who looked under 30 and all were excited and peppering him with questions. He was smiling and talking and looked happy to be here.

The RNC announced that the Monday session of the Republican National Convention has been cancelled due to weather concerns. It has been rainy and cloudy but not particularly stormy or windy today. But we found out tonight a specific reason that caution required cancellation. That’s because the route the buses travel from our hotel to the meeting location in Tampa includes a very long stretch of bridge, which is quite low to the water beneath and on both sides. The delegates traveled on buses tonight on that route, and one delegate on the bus who formerly lived in Tampa said that in big storms that road often is flooded over.

That bus trip tonight was the big adventure for the delegates today—we went to a Delegate Welcome Party at Tropicana Field where the Tampa Bay Rays play. The bus trip there was an adventure all by itself—we left on the early (5pm departure) bus, and the three buses that left at that point had a police escort for the one hour drive from our hotel to the event. Police cars with lights spinning were ahead, next to us and behind us the whole time, stopping traffic at major intersections. A straggly group of oddly costumed protesters (maybe 6 of them) waved a few signs at us as we entered the Tropicana Field parking lot. It was drizzly and you almost felt sorry for those protesters whose signs were illegible and their point utterly indiscernible.

Security is very tight and very visible. Sheriff’s Department officers are everywhere all over the hotel and at the airport and at the event locations. Safety rules extend to banning taking even umbrellas onto buses or into events.

The Texas delegation held its first meeting today, but some delegates chose to attend the Faith and Freedom Rally and others chose other competing events. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison spoke to the group, Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri conducted a little business, and then Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson wrapped up the meeting with his usual humor and punch.

A controversy is brewing over a proposed rule change concerning who has power to select/veto delegates for future conventions. Rules Committees normally excite only a small percentage of convention-goers, but this particular controversy has raised the ire of many grassroots and everyday mainstream Republicans, so it’ll likely be the subject of intense discussion. The Rules Committee capitulated in their work before the convention and agreed to do a modified version of what the Party wants. I wrote a separate piece just on this situation because it is a symbolic dispute between the grassroots and the party bosses. The vote on this issue among the assembled delegates from all 50 states plus territories will be one test of passion and strength.

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