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Speeches, Rule Changes, and 3-hour Bus Rides

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I’ve got to keep this one brief, as our delegation photo went a little long, and now we’re about to head to lunch. I’ll add more in a bit.

Yesterday we boarded the buses at noon to take us over to Tampa, as the business session began at 2pm. Much of the time from 2pm-530pm was filled with speeches, but there was a bit of action over a rule change. By now I’m sure you’ve heard about it in more details than I can provide in my limited space and time here. The rule change dealt with the binding of delegates to candidate–other rules regarding things like candidates picking delegates were dropped. However, the Paul folks were beyond heated about the proposed rule change, and were very vocal about it. Speaker Boehner and Chairman Priebus both had to call the convention to order due to loud complaints from delegates and alternates. It was a fairly tense few minutes, as Paul supporters were chanting, “Point of Order!” and Romney supporters were chanting “USA! USA!”. I’m not sure if any of this made it onto TV, but if it did, I can assure you it was louder and more dramatic in person.

I will provide a more thorough analysis of the rule change after I return to Charlotte, and I will interview folks on both sides of the issue to see why they held their positions, and how they believe the change will affect future conventions. Right now I just don’t have the time to do that story any justice, so I will come back to it later.

We took a 30 minute break from 6:30-7pm, at which there was a mad dash for concession stands and power outlets. I understand we are Republicans, and support capitalism, but there needs to be some sort of free water source, in the interest of public safety. $2.50 for a 12 oz bottle of water is highway robbery, and in the heat and humidity of Florida and the convention hall, those bottles of water add up pretty quickly. Especially since we were there from 1pm-11pm.

At 7pm the speeches began again.

Ted Cruz got the crowd fired up with an incredible speech about self-determination. At one point, in Spanish, he said, “when we came here, we had nothing, but we had heart”. He also pulled a line from Bill Pullman in Independence Day and said, “we will not go quietly into the night!” He gave his entire speech from memory.

Artur Davis, former Obama campaign supporter, spoke directly to Democrats and Independents, and told them to listen to what the Democrats say during the next few months and ask themselves “do they really speak for me?” Listen, and they will likely find that Democrat programs and initiatives are contrary to their own values.

Luce Fortuno, First Lady of Puerto Rico, gave the introductory speech for Ann Romney. She spoke from the heart and gave a very warm introduction.

Ann Romney gave a wonderful speech. She was well-spoken, spoke from the heart , and provided a perspective that we don’t often see in politics…the real person behind the campaign message. One quote that was memorable, among many, was that “no one will care more [about fixing America] that Mitt Romney”.  She was not the keynote speaker, but she may as well have been. It was hard for…

Chris Christie to follow Ann Romney. He was typical Chris Christie–powerful, straight talking, and inspiring. I could listen to him every night at the convention. Please youtube his speech and Ann Romney’s if you get a chance.

The convention dismissed at 11pm and that is when everything fell apart. Have you heard about the bus fiasco? I have never seen such incompetence  and poor organization. Thousands and thousands of people exiting the Tampa Bay Times Forum, leaving through a few choke-points which became bottlenecks. And then we had to get onto buses. Thousands of folks standing around a big parking lot waiting for buses to arrive, one at a time. No one knew what bus to get onto, and there were only a few volunteers directing traffic. It was a mess. But it didn’t end there. Then our bus driver got lost (he wasn’t the only one), and we finally arrived at Raymond James Stadium, where we were to get off of the shuttle buses, and get onto the buses that would take us to our hotels. 120 buses trying to pull into the stadium at once. We were stopped for about an hour waiting for our turn to enter the stadium grounds. Finally we saw people getting off of other buses, and we pleaded with our driver to let us off, but he and the cop on board would not let us. 55 people on our bus, trying to get off…tempers were flaring. Eventually the driver let us off, and we wandered into the stadium grounds to find the NC bus. We found it, and we finally arrived at our hotel at 2:20am. Over 3 hours later. Even this morning, folks from various delegations are commenting about what a nightmare last night turned into.

Anyhow, enough of that. Today we have a lunch with the Wisconsin delegation, and I am hoping to get a picture with Paul Ryan. Tonight the speeches begin at 7pm, and Rand Paul will speak at 730. I imagine things may get interesting then, with the  number of Paul supporters at the convention. There are a number of speeches I’m looking forward to, including Ryan, Paul, Rice, and Huckabee.

I’ll be tweeting throughout the convention, so feel free to follow me at @mridenhour.

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