In spite of the fact that Tampa Bay has not suffered a direct hit from a hurricane since the 1800s, Isaac has dominated the conversation since I arrived at the airport yesterday.
While the media is covering the track of the storm and seems obsessed with its impact on the convention, many of them fail to remember that the 2008 Republican Convention was also delayed by one day due to Hurricane Gustav. Even though Gustav was in the Gulf and not close to the convention it was delayed out of respect for the states that were threatened and it did impact the speakers schedule because then President Bush and many of the Gulf Coast Governors who were originally on the speakers scheduled either didn't attend or sent their message via video.
Delegation and Guests Profiles
The Delegation from Maryland has many high profile names including both the Maryland Senate Minority Leader EJ Pipken and the House Minority Leader and Congressional Candidate Tony O'Donnell. Also in the Delegation is Ambassador Ellen Sauerbray who was a former Republican candidate for Governor in 1994. Other prominent names and potential Gubernatorial candidates include County Executive David Craig and former Congressional Candidate Charles Lollar.
Anne Arundel County is well represented by yours truly, along with Delegates Nic Kipke, and Steve Schuh, the current and former chairmen of the Anne Arundel Republican party Alan Rzepkowski, and Chuck Gast. Robin Bisset who was past vice-chair of the county Republican party and currently serves as Legislative Aide for Delegate Bob Costa as well as Legal Council to the county party Jason Rheinstein Esq.
Last night was the kickoff party at Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The security was extremely tight up to a half mile away from the field. The off ramp to the stadium was closed to everyone except the tour buses. There were mounted police, officers on bicycle and more Secret Service police than you could count. The dirt infield was covered with a hard floor but there were tables and food stations spread generously throughout the turf field.
The crowd was entertained by acts from the Tampa Bay Bucaneers cheerleaders, American Idol contestant Shannon Magrane, and country music star Rodney Adkins. The food was great and we had free range of most of the stadium so folks were taking pictures in dugout and a few members of our delegation were able to take some swings in a batting cage.
This morning at breakfast we had a rousing speech by Marylands own Senator EJ Pipkin.
He spoke about the "arrogance of power" in Annapolis and reminded us that if President Obama is re-elected our country will look more like Maryland i.e.
higher taxes, more regulation, and more government intrusion in our lives. He emphasized the importance of the four statewide ballot questions: gay marriage, tuition for illegal immigrants, the gerrymandered congressional redistricting and most recently the expansion of a sixth gambling casino. He reminded us of the importance of voting to overturn all of these over reaches by Governor O'Malley and the Legislature led by Democrats.
This afternoon we went to Ybor city formerly known as the cigar capital of the world and had lunch at a neat little restaurant called Gaspars Grotto. We thought the rain and wind would be so heavy that we wouldn't be able to venture out of the restaurant but the rain was very light and intermittent which allowed many to venture out for shopping and browse the cigar shops along the main drag.
Due to the convention delay the rest of our afternoon and evening includes free time and as a result some of the delegation are going to attend a local showing of the movie titled “2016: Obama’s America” which is apparently exceeding box office expectations.
Stay tuned for more from Tampa as tomorrow the energy picks up speed as it builds toward Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney’s speeches Wednesday and Thursday evening.
Tomorrow's blog post will be live from the convention...