Saturday, September 1, 2012

My experience at the RNC

This year I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.  This is where we nominate our candidate for President.  Of course, this year we nominated Mitt Romney.  It was really (for lack of a better word) NEAT-O to go through the entire process that got me to the RNC as an Alternate Delegate supporting Gov. Romney.

It started at the neighborhood level a long time ago.  I attended my local caucus in my precinct way back in February.  There, each precinct elected Delegates to attend the County Assembly.  I squeaked in as a Delegate, and was able to attend the County Assembly. The local paper covered our precinct in an article HERE.

I am the Secretary of the Republican Party in our county, so I did have some other responsibilities at the County Assembly, but there I was also able to get elected to attend the State Assembly to be held in Denver in April.

This is the point that it gets really difficult to move forward.  At a local and state level, it is quite common for groups of people supporting a specific candidate to vote in unity, or as a block, in order elect delegates that support their chosen candidate. We saw a great deal of organization at the local level for Ron Paul.  His supporters were very committed and organized, and although they only are a small fraction of the voters (5-15%), they managed to elect 'Paul' Delegates at a much higher percentage.   But that is the way it works, and it encourages people to be really active and organized at a neighborhood level.  While I love many of the things that Dr Paul advocates, I am a Romney supporter through and through.  And this is where it gets interesting (if you are a politics wonk like me).

It was a short time before the State convention that the Romney camp realized that they would need to organize in order to send through delegates for their man.  The Ron Paul and Rick Santorum camps had unified and came up with what they called the Conservative Unity Slate.  It consisted of supporters from both groups, although they all declared themselves to be 'unpledged.'  Santorum had only days before dropped out of the race, but his supporters wanted to go to the convention anyway as the not-Romneys.

So with only days until the State convention, I got a call from the Romney people here in Colorado.  They were trying to put together their own slate in hopes that Romney supporters would vote together.  I wasn't super excited about the idea because I felt uncomfortable asking Romney supporters in my county to vote for me and the others on the slate, and not themselves or their neighbor.  They asked me to be on the CD3 slate where we would pick 3 Delegates and 3 Alternates. I agreed.

Because of junk going on in our county, I actually changed my mind a short time later.  I called back the SO (state organizer) and asked that he take my name off the slate.  I felt like our LPCo Republicans needed to be united in November and many of the Tea Party people did not like my support of Romney. While I still supported him, I thought it might be better if someone other than me was on the slate-I suggested our State Rep. J Paul Brown as a good slate pick.  The SO agreed and I was off the slate.

Then, the night before the assembly, I got a call from the SO.  He said there was a paperwork mistake of some kind and JPaul wasn't eligible to be elected from CD3, he would have to run statewide.  He asked if I would be willing to be on the slate.  Well, I just decided to go ahead.  I really wanted to go the the RNC for Romney and although I knew some people would be bothered, so be it.

At the State Assembly, the excitement was high as MANY people wanted to go to the RNC and they were actively campaigning in the halls and around the room.  I wore a Romney t-shirt, but had to help check in Delegates from our CD, so I didn't do any campaigning.  Each person hoping to go to the RNC was given 10 seconds to plead their case.  There was a LONNNG line of us that took our turn at the mic.  I simply introduced myself and encouraged everyone to vote for the slate.  I did not have any hope that I would make it through.

Once the votes were counted, to my surprise, I was elected not as a Delegate, but as an Alternate.  This meant that I still was able to attend the RNC, but was unable to vote unless a Delegate from CD3 was absent. I was SOOO excited and I felt really humbled that I was able to represent my State at a National Assembly.  There were 36 total delegates and 36 total alternates.  We actually had 2 delegates and 1 other alternate chosen from our county in the total delegation which is quite unusual.  :)  Our paper wrote about it HERE.

The primaries continued across the US in preparation for the RNC.  Each state holds an assembly where they elect, in a way similar to Colorado, the Delegates they will send to the National Assembly. The number of Republicans each state has determines the quantity of Delegates. So what you end up with are Delegates from all over the country who, just like me, started out in their own neigborhoods, but through a voting process, ended up going to Tampa.  These Delegates then elect people to serve on different committees at the National Convention.  There is equal representation from each state to serve on, for example, the Rules Committee-which determines our bylaws for the next 4 years in the Republican Party.  I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I loved learning about the process from beginning to end.

As an Alternate Delegate I was able to invite 1 guest to go with me.  Before I ever ran as a Natl Delegate, I told John he HAD to come to Tampa with me if I went.  He must have known how slim my chances were, because he agreed! ;)  The CIA actually called to get our names as they did a background check on all convention attendees.  The convention was not at a very convenient time, as we had just started school, but I got a sub for seminary, John got his work affairs in order, and we were off to Florida!

Upon our arrival on Sunday night, there was much ado about a Hurricane heading our way.  Isaac threatened to put a real damper on things.  There was so much concern in fact, that they cancelled all RNC activities on Monday.  We arrived to some rain and high humidity on Sunday.  There was a Welcome party for all Delegations at Tropicana Stadium.  It was a huge stadium with lots of free food and an open bar.  As with all activities, we rode a bus from our hotel along with other Colorado and New Mexico delegates.   The place was full of those crazy Republicans!  I of course knew no one but John, but we had fun.  There was a concert at the end by Rodney Atkins.  It was terrific-I love his music!

Looking Down at the Stadium Floor

We were really close to the stage! Fun! 

Rodney Atkins-good music, poor dancer ;)

With our Convention cancelled on Monday, there wasn't a lot going on.  We went to the Colorado Delegation breakfast and were pleased to have Matt Romney (one of the sons) come and speak to us. The local paper took this pic of John and I during his remarks--->

Our delegation also took that time to figure out our votes for the Roll Call the next morning.  Our Delegates could either vote for Romney or abstain, as he was the only one on the ballot. Those that had previously supported Santorum at the State Convention voted for Romney, but all those that supported Ron Paul chose to abstain.  They were still hoping to get his name on the ballot from the floor by showing that they had enough states with a plurality that supported Paul.  That was the start of what pretty much became a theme.  The Paul supporters were single minded and anytime they were outvoted, they did not take it well.  While I certainly respect their right to vote how they choose, I was saddened to see that they refused to accept the votes of others when they were outnumbered.


With nothing else going on, through the magic of social media, many in our Delegation organized ourselves to go to the movies! Of course we all went to see the movie '2016' about Obama.  I guess other delegations had the same idea because the theater was FULL.  A few of us chattin' it up after the movie.





That night we got to go to dinner as a Delegation at a restaurant just across the water from the convention center (as per the finger in my picture-ha) This is where I first realized just how much security there was.  There were little Coast Guard boats like this one every few 100 feet!  It was crazy! And those are some serious guns on the boats!
Coast Guard Boats-that is the Convention Center on the water

Us with the Convention Center over John's shoulder
We stayed there until the sun went down.  There were bands and open bars and I was thinking how much less expensive a bunch of Mormon delegates would have been to entertain. heehee In fact we actually met some other LDS Delegates, Paul Archer and his wife Carol.  We laughed about our different style of partying than is commonly enjoyed at a bar.  We even learned that they have some friends moving to our town and we told them we would have then over.  It's just cool sometimes how the Mormon network functions! :)

I don't really know many people in our delegation and am realizing that I probably should.  One delegate came up to me and introduced himself by saying 'Hi, I'm Scott."  It wasn't until a day later that I learned it was our Secretary of State, Scott Gessler.  I just never knew what he looked like.  I think a few State Senators were a little annoyed that I had no idea they were even elected officials.  We have New Mexico TV though, and I did recognize the NM Senator that was at our hotel! ;)

Tuesday came and I was so excited to get started with the official Delegation Stuff!  But before we did, we had the pleasure of attending a lunch cruise out in the harbor.  I got this pic with the 2 Delegates from my county, Luke Kirk and JPaul Brown.  For an impending hurricane, the weather was lovely.  We did have 2 armed boats follow our yacht as it made it's loop in the harbor.  Our lunch buffet was safe from terror attacks I guess.
Our Lunch Yacht!
Luke, Myself, JPaul-Go La Plata County!
Kinda windy on those yachts! ;)

There are great pictures in the Denver Post each day and here is Tuesday.

It was a short walk from the yacht dock over to the Convention Center.  We were all in our Delegation shirts and hat as we strolled over.  With hardly a cloud in the sky, there was a cloudburst right over us just long enough to get us soaked.  It was pretty funny and I learned that in Florida, rain doesn't really cool you off as much as just leave you wet.  But we finally made it through security and into the convention.
Trying to get a picture of the whole delegation

As an Alternate Delegate I had really great seats.  Everyone wore credentials with their assigned seats, and sadly, John as my guest, got stuck way up in the nosebleed section.   I sat with the other alternates and really enjoyed talking with many of them.  Today was the official roll call where delegates were added up to see if Romney had enough votes to become our nominee.  It is mostly a formality, but the Ron Paul ppl tried to make a motion to have him placed on the ballot, without success.  After Colorado read it's delegation vote, Ryan Call, our State Chairman came up to the alternate section and traded his credentials for mine.  I got to go down on the floor for the remainder of the vote and to be there when Romney passed the threshold of having enough votes to be declared our nominee.  For me, this was FANTASTIC!!  There is a pic from the Post.  I am to the right and below the Colorado sign!

On the floor during the nomination!!
It was just amazing after going through the whole process, to get to be on the floor for this.  I hung out down there for a while and soaked it all in.








The big speech tonight was from Ann Romney.  I gotta say-I really, really like her.  She is an amazing woman, mother, wife, and tough lady.  The only camera I had was my phone, but I pulled a few more from the Post.  Her job was to humanize Gov. Romney and I though she was fantastic.

We also go to  hear from Gov. Christie of New Jersery.  While he was a bit more tame than some of us were hoping, he still did a great job laying out the case for a change this November.  We had already heard from lots and lots of people earlier in the day and the definate standout was Mayor Mia Love from Utah.  She is a gifted speaker and everyone in our delegation thought she was brilliant.  

I was surprised that during much of the speakers throughout the day that the whole audience wasn't really quiet, at all.  In fact, the floor was a beehive of activity as politicians, delegates, and media circulated throughout the crowd.  Our delegation was the same.  We would talk about points of policy, different candidates, and how our businesses could not survive another 4 years of Obama.  The Romney peeps tried to persuade the Paul peeps and vice versa.  I got to sit next to a really amazing lady  from my CD.  Her name was Nancy Carlson and she owns a car dealership with her husband in Glenwood Springs.  She has been involved in politics for 40 years. She was telling a Paul fan that she and her husband had been the ones to organize the petition drive to get Ross Perot on the ballot back in '88.  "And you know what it got me?" she asked him, "Bill Clinton."  Of course it was her hope that we would all work together to get Romney elected and not waste our vote, although I don't think the ppl she talked to were at all persuadable. 
Me and my good sport hubby

There was a Trace Adkins concert after the convention, but John and I were ready to be done for the night.  So we headed for the busses.  Tragically for my beauty sleep, we didn't back to our hotel for 3 1/2 hours!! It was insanely lame!  Because of security, the buses unloaded at a snails pace.  Many people that went to the concert were back to the hotel before our 2:30a arrival.  That was not fun.

Wednesday arrived and John and I slept through breakfast! I am a little bummed because we got to hear from a bunch of Olympic athletes and many delegates got to handle their gold medals! ;) Cool! Gov. Tim Pawlenty also spoke to our Delegation. Here is a link to pictures from Wednesday.

At the convention, we got to hear from many more speakers (again of course!)  I enjoyed Gov. Suzanna Martinez of New Mexico.  Because we do have Albuquerque TV, I almost feel like she is MY governor. ;)  I also liked Condi Rice. Her speech was electric.  She gave a great line:

"And on a personal note– a little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham – the most segregated big city in America - her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or a restaurant – but they make her believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter – she can be President of the United States and she becomes the Secretary of State."

The crowd in the Convention LOVED it! I loved it!  She was inspiring and made me proud of the progress our country has made in the last 40 years.

Of course her speech was followed by Paul Ryan, the VP nominee.  He gave lots of zingers and I like him because he understands the depth of our financial problems and offers solutions.  Not many politicians are willing to spell things out with much detail.  At the end of his speech, the nat'l networks must have scanned the crowd near our delegations, because I got a bunch of texts and pics.  I was cheering at the end of the speech. I am glad Kim took a picture! :)  We got home quickly on the bus, as I think they worked out some kinks with the system.  Thank goodness!



Thursday morning was here and we got to have one last breakfast with our Colorado Delegation.  I loved it.  Condi came and spoke to us!  Of course I got a picture of her and I together...

The Denver Post lady took a couple of pics of us watching Condi.  She was even cooler in our little setting.

We also heard from Ari Fleisher who told us stories about George Bush making fun of his name back in Texas.  ("Is that spelled R period, E period?")  Gov. McConnell from Virginia, a battleground state, also spoke and seems to think Romney will take it in his state, naturally! ;)  It was also at this breakfast that I turned and was listening to another member of our delegation talk about his county when I looked at him and realized that he was an old friend of mine!  We were in the same ward in Provo and he was actually on a houseboat party I organized at the end of the year.  I went up to him afterwards and said, "Justin! You know me!"  We hugged and laughed and talked about our youth.  Fun!  He is a really funny guy and made sitting in the convention center Thursday night that much funner.

My old friend Justin. This was our view!
Our breakfast was not without it's controversy.  There was an ongoing problem at the convention involving the adoption of new rules by the Rules Committee.  The 2 delegates from CO were Paulers and they were having a fit about rules 12 and 15.  The committee had reached a compromise that passed with a huge majority, but they were not satisfied and were trying to bring it to the floor that afternoon at the convention.  Our State Party Chair, Ryan Call, closed out our breakfast with a really great quote by Ronald Reagan on Unity within the party.  I have to say that from what I could observe, Ryan had gone out of his way to be sure all delegates were involved.  After his talk, a Paul supporter got up and just complained.  It was so disheartening.  There is a time for disagreement and debate, but in my opinion, that time had past.  The Paul supporters seem to want their way or no way.  I hope they will all choose to stay engaged in the future and change the things they don't like themselves, instead of complaining about the way things are.
Were we often were-the BUS

Heading in to see Mitt
But we were soon off again to the final day at the Convention.  There are photos here for Thursday.  My seats were just below where all of the news organiztions were, so I could see Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, & George Stephanopolous, or at least I could see the backs of their heads.
My view behind me-News Casters a few rows up
An incredibly touching story at the convention was told about Romney by people that were in his ward while their 14 year old son was dying.  I, along with many others in the room, was crying at the telling of the kindness and compassion from Bishop Romney. John later told me that he was glad his seat was up high in the corner because he was crying up there! Here's a link to the stories.

There was of course the Empty Chair bit with Clint Eastwood.  In the hall, we were all kind of holding our breathe to see how it was all going to turn out.  I'm not sure how it came across on TV, but in the Conv Ctr, he brought the house down.   I realized listening to all of the speakers talk about Gov. Romney, that in a short space of time, we were crying and laughing and cheering. I loved it! :)

And then of course there was Gov. Romney accepting the nomination.  I admit, I am a believer.  I think he truly has the skill set we need in a President right now.  And after hearing the testimonials of people that know him personally, I am even more convinced.


Wahoo!!!
John and I had a tremendous experience.  We met some really great people that all sincerely care about our country.  It was heartening to see their sincerity and hope.  I was saddened to see the division in our party, but I do hope we can pull together by November.  This administration has had a direct correlation with jobs in our business and our area that relies heavily on the energy sector.   I feel honored to have participated in the process that got us all there. I am not sure if I will be active in politics in the future, but I will definately treasure the memories I have from this experience.

1 comment:

George and Eva Ross said...

Thanks so much for that post! It is magnificent. You answered so many of the questions I had about your adventure to Florida. We are so proud of you and your efforts to represent our country in this time of crisis.
Mom