Flying into Tampa gives an excellent view of the mansions lining the coastline, each with an elaborate dock--none of which, peculiarly, had a boat nearby. No watercraft floated anywhere on the vast surface of the bay, as residents prepared for then Tropical Storm Isaac to batter their town, just in time for the Republican National Convention. Is it a message from God?
|Michael Medved interviews Cathy McMorris Rodgers|
If so, God likes Republicans, as Isaac switched trajectory, and the RNC was left readjusting the schedule to make up for the precautionary cancelling of first-day ceremonies. Tampa had vied for a convention for years, and now we saw why they’d been hitherto denied. Threats of hurricanes trump politics, and headlines here ponder: Will Isaac rain on Mitt’s parade? The heavy cloud cover often gives way to pelting rain and fierce wind, swaying the palm trees like hula dancers.
Sunday night events included hail-fellow-well-met reunions, notably the big welcoming bash at St. Petersburg’s Tampa Rays’ sports arena, Tropicana Field. It was sponsored by Bicardi and Grey Goose, perhaps a little incongruent with the nominee’s religiously-dictated tee totaling. Also a bit inconsistent with traditional Mormon modesty were some of the entertainers, scantily clad and wiggling to loud rock music, more expected at a Democratic event. Some participants longed for a few pep talks and inspirational words.
As proud carnivores after consuming scads of Chik Fil-A in support of free speech, RNC’ers grazed at buffets loaded with meat, most with a centerpiece of a whole pig. Not so kosher, perhaps, but the non-Jews chowed down on a dozen fleshy dishes and shellfish galore. Non-Mormons consumed free booze, especially three concoctions loaded with rum in red, white and blue. Many in the crowd were costumed in Revolutionary gear, proclaiming their Tea Party support. The noise was loud, the ambiance celebratory, the music pumping.
We ran into friends who were definitely in the mood. One reveler leaned toward me and, oops, the content of her class dribbled over my foot and into my shoe. Hey, folks were having a good time.
Today’s the first official day of the convention, though hurricane fears led to cancelling tonight’s ceremonies, replaced by a quick official opening with dismissal 10 minutes later. Michael shared a panel dais at a noon Republican Jewish Coalition luncheon, with coalition head Matt Brooks, GOP political consultant Mike Murphy, and former Gov. Haley Barbour (MS). Michael joined the call to include immigrants—Asians as well as Hispanics--in the Republican fold, given that their values tend to be so in sync. My man also reviewed efforts by Pres. Bush to pass legislation benefiting illegals that was blocked by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelsosi’s refusal to allow a vote—despite a majority of Republicans supporting it. Overcoming Obama’s dour negative campaigning to focus on the economy, and worries war with Iran also drew discussion. Michael cited polls showing the public favorable on the prez’ likability, and impressed with Romney’s competence to tackle economic woes. The task is to emphasize, especially to key groups like Hispanics and women, that their lot relies on economic recovery. Gov. Barbour offered a great line: The difference between the left and right on health care is that the left wants to make private health care more like government health care, and the right wants to make government health care more like private health care.
I write this while sitting two feet from my husband, who’s broadcasting today’s show on Radio Row in the Tampa Convention Center. A parade of guests, some scheduled, some aspiring, hovers around the Salem Radio Network booth, where our son, Danny, is acting as show producer, collaring dignitaries, fending off lesser-knowns seeking national exposure, keeping track of the hour. Our entourage contains two Seattle politicos, attorney Rob and his cousin Dan Dixon, who have excellently provided transportation, organization and every kind of support. What an exciting adventure.
|Radio show producer Danny Medved and me on Radio Row, RNC|
Guests can drop in for a single segment on the show, and the array is ad hoc and always changing. We saw Newt Gingrich strolling by, followed by reporters and sound-boom carriers. This morning Herman Cain was surrounded by reporters a few feet away. Anyone seeking visibility trolls our aisle. I’ve shaken dozens of famous hands. Some who have visited Michael’s microphone are Washington state congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who had been on Romney’s short list for VP, Utah junior senator Mike Lee, Al Cardenas, chairman of CPAC, Randy Forbes, congressman from Virginia’s 4th district, and Wisconsin junior senator Ron Johnson.The weather is ominous. Moments ago, torrential rain slammed at angles and again the palms swooped and bowed, Isaac’s reminder. And so Republicans are conscious that God plays a role in men’s affairs. Will the hurricane upstage Mitt? Natural disasters rightfully command attention, and we pray for those who might be in Isaac’s path. But politics continues on. By the way, speakers here at the Convention often mention themes in Michael’s e-book, The Odds Against Obama, though Michael’s got the unique historical analysis to really inspire optimism among Republicans. It’s an upbeat feel here in Tampa, and I look forward to more of this positive excitement tomorrow and in the coming days.