TAMPA — Google was known throughout the Republican National Convention for hosting a lavish lounge at the Tampa Convention Center where reporters scored free lattes, naps and colorful lapel buttons. They weren't going to be shown up at their closing night party.
Thursday, Google hosted an exclusive, invite-only gathering closed to the press at the Tampa Museum of Art. The theme was sort of a Florida backyard vibe, with white Adirondack chairs and benches, patches of bright green grass on the ground and mason jars on the tables with twinkling Christmas lights that looked like fireflies.
Bartenders served grapefruit and ginger beer cocktails while a DJ played a mix of R&B, hip-hop and the occasional remix of a Peggy Lee song. Caterers passed around grilled cheese triangles and pimento tartlets while onlookers watched the RNC on a big screen in a faux backyard pumped with air conditioning. Inside the museum, exhibits featured American innovations ranging from Post-it notes to teddy bears to the ubiquitous yellow smiley face, which a placard explained was invented in Massachusetts by some disgruntled workers who needed cheering.
Google employees, friends and lucky conventioneers who scored an invite watched Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney and even Clint Eastwood make their speeches. Some clapped at the "hope" and "change" slams. When Eastwood said, "You're the best and we should not ever forget that," bites of California pizza made the rounds. As a party favor, guests could pick their home state off a giant map of the United States of America covered in buttons, the quintessential Google swag.
— Stephanie Hayes, Times Staff Writer