Saturday, May 26, 2018
Politics

Convention officially opens as delegates stay away

TAMPA

Republican Nat­ional Committee chairman Reince Priebus rapped a gavel six times at 2 p.m. Monday and formally opened the 2012 Republican National Convention to a largely empty Tampa Bay Times Forum — a muted start caused by Tropical Storm Isaac.

Seventy seconds later, Priebus banged the gavel three more times, ending Day 1.

The Republican National Committee originally planned a double session Monday but changed its plans due to Isaac, which lingered in the Gulf of Mexico west of Tampa. Many state delegations stayed in their convention hotels Monday and skipped the quick opening session.

The convention will get rolling at 2 p.m. today with the roll call of states, followed in the evening by speeches by seven Republican governors, including the keynoter, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. Christie and Ann Romney will deliver prime-time speeches in the 10 o'clock hour, when all three broadcast networks will be providing live coverage.

Beautiful weather? Yeah, right

Thousands of media representatives from all over the world are covering the RNC in Tampa. Some arrived at the Tampa Convention Center — the filing center for reporters — soaked to the skin from the remnants of Isaac. Inside, they were handed an Official Media Guide, which says on Page 5: "Tampa Bay boasts some of the nicest weather in the country."

Best seats in the house

The choicest seating spot in the Tampa Bay Times Forum belongs to the 79-member delegation from Massachusetts, the state Mitt Romney governed from 2003-2007. Three prime front-row seats belong to senior Romney adviser Ron Kaufman; Kerry Healey, Romney's lieutenant governor; and delegation chairman Bob MaGinn. Seated right behind Massachusetts is the 50-member Florida delegation.

An icon remembered

Many Tampa delegates hadn't even been born in 1964 when Republicans nominated Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, who famously said in his acceptance speech: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." President Lyndon Johnson swamped Goldwater in the LBJ landslide, but Goldwater, who died in 1998, remains an iconic party figure. Delegates and alternates, including a Ron Paul supporter, Jay Vics of Wilmington, N.C., were circulating little white buttons featuring Goldwater's name written using the periodic table of the elements: "AuH2O '64." (At the 1964 convention, Romney's father, George Romney, challenged Goldwater's hard-line positions on civil rights.)

A short commute

The Florida delegation in Tampa has two hourlong bus rides each day, to and from the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor. But you won't find alternate delegate Tony Jackson on that bus: He's commuting from his home in nearby Seffner. "I've got a 20-minute drive," Jackson said.

Very brief beginning

Chairman Reince Priebus, after officially adjourning the convention for the day, pointed to two national debt clocks in the upper reaches of Tampa Bay Times Forum that will show a running tally of national debt growth for the next three days. So few delegates were around that organizers rounded up party staffers to fill seats in the hall.

They got a quick pep talk from Tony Feather, a veteran GOP strategist in charge of whip operations in Tampa. He told them to loudly chant "USA! USA!" if spontaneous demonstrations erupted on the floor. But it didn't happen, and if you blinked, you probably missed it.

A very brief beginning

Priebus, after officially adjourning the convention for the day, pointed to two national debt clocks in the upper reaches of the Tampa Bay Times Forum that will show a running tally of national debt growth for the next three days. So few delegates were around that organizers rounded up party staffers to fill seats in the hall.

They got a quick pep talk from Tony Feather, a veteran GOP strategist in charge of whip operations in Tampa. He told them to loudly chant "USA! USA!" if spontaneous demonstrations erupted on the floor. But it didn't happen, and if you blinked, you probably missed it.

Comments
Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

I may have cracked the code. Found a way to sell doing the right thing. Discovered a method of persuasion in certain matters of fairness, conscience and the greater good.Like giving our fellow Americans a second chance.When morality-based arguments d...
Published: 05/26/18
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18