Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Politics

Winners and losers of the Republican National Convention in Tampa

Winners and losers of the just-concluded 2012 Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum:

Winners

Paul Ryan. This is Paul Ryan's Republican Party, with his conservative agenda driving the discussion and energizing the party.

Condi Rice. She gave the strongest speech of the week — and didn't even need a teleprompter.

Bob Buckhorn. Local Republicans for months have been raving about the Tampa mayor's enthusiasm and help with the GOP convention. As one prominent GOP strategist told us the other day, if Florida Democrats were smart, they'd forget their flirtation with Charlie Crist and unite behind a draft-Buckhorn campaign for the 2014 governor's race.

Ken Jones. Nobody has worked harder than the president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Host Committee to raise $55 million and help the community showcase itself to the nation, though much of the credit has gone to others.

Jeb Bush. He has become the newest national media darling, with his straight talk and depth.

Marco Rubio. Based on the caliber of speakers, all he needed to do was hit a double to be a convention standout and he did.

Jane Castor. Two arrests. Two. That's an incredible testament to Tampa's police chief and her department. Over and over again we heard conventioneers remarking about how friendly the security personnel were, those from Tampa and elsewhere.

Rick Scott. He hates giving speeches anyway, and staying away from the RNC until the last night to keep an eye on Isaac and emergency preparedness is better politics than schmoozing in Tampa.

Charlie Crist. Say what you will, but the ex-governor shunned by the GOP has a knack for staying in the conversation.

Losers

Barricades. Obviously tight security is crucial, but the overwhelming consensus among visitors was that the vast fencing was overkill. It snuffed out traffic for local businesses and prevented people from getting much sense of Tampa. (Lord knows how much money the CNN Grill, with its free food and booze for guests inside the perimeter, took from nearby restaurants.) Venues that convention leaders had assured would be easily accessible from the Tampa Bay Times Forum instead turned into distant locations thanks to all the fencing.

Russ Schriefer and Stu Stevens. Campaigns have the ability to script their conventions down to the second, and there is no hour more important than the final hour. Romney's senior advisers somehow decided to send an aging American icon, Clint Eastwood, on stage to ad lib something about an invisible Obama. Political malpractice.

Clint Eastwood. Along with his "Make my day" line, Dirty Harry will forever be associated with his bizarre, rambling RNC performance. Ten years from now, that will be the only thing people remember from the 2012 convention.

Bill Harris and Mike Miller. The convention CEO and COO are veterans of putting together these mega events. So there is no excuse for the ridiculous transportation problems that had delegates in open revolt on overheated buses throughout Tampa Bay.

GOP delegates and guests. Okay, Mitt Romney is not the most thrilling nominee, but how about some passion for beating Barack Obama, folks? This was the most subdued convention crowd in a long time.

Economic impact projections. An estimated $150 million economic boost to Tampa Bay? Hard to see it. Yes, it was great exposure for the region and filled hotels and venues, but a host of local businesses said it only cost them business.

Chris Christie. Me. Me. Me. It's not 2016 yet, governor.

Gulf Coast states. Fair or not, convention organizers will think twice before picking Gulf Coast states during hurricane season.

Pam Bondi. Weird two-person speech with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. The awkward pair looked like the anchor team in a third-tier TV market.

Social conservatism and foreign policy. All the energy in the party today is fiscal conservatism. The other two legs of the GOP stool were barely mentioned inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Four-day conventions. It's hard to find anyone who thinks they make much sense any more. Look for future conventions to shrink down to two or even one-day affairs.

Adam C. Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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