Tampa – The Republican National Convention really begins today, as colorful New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivers a highly anticipated keynote address. Meanwhile Republicans are keeping an eye on Soon-To-Be-Hurricane Isaac, which will make landfall on the Gulf Coast later today. Isaac was credited with limiting turnout at RNC protests yesterday.
Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson has spent the last several days in Tampa going to various party functions. He leaves town today, just as the action takes off.
Here is what's happening on on Day Two of the 2012 RNC:
1. Roll Call Day
The modern political convention is really a highly choreographed, largely predictable four-day paid advertisement. Today, though, all that planning could go out the window because it is party-business day, when the GOP actually rules on changes and nominates its 2012 ticket. Some Ron Paulers still believe that they will have a real chance to nominate their favorite guy, while others are looking for a floor fight over party minutiae.
Paul delegates are extremely upset over party rule changes that would alter the way delegates to the national convention are assigned. The rules would give presidential campaigns the power to pick state delegations and would tie the caucus and primary results to allotment of delegates. Paul did not perform well in the primary or caucuses but he did do very well at state party events that assigned and, in some cases, awarded bound convention delegates. If the changes proposed by the national GOP were in place, the Paul delegation in Tampa would be much, much smaller.
2. Chris Christie
All eyes will be on the Garden State's governor tonight when he gives the keynote address of the convention. During the primary season several big-money Republicans tried to nudge Christie into the race but he didn't budge. As a northeastern Republican, Christie is part of a dying species, but his take-no-prisoners demeanor has helped propel him to national rock star status in the conservative movement. There's a chance Christie's gruffness and shoot-from-the-hip nature could overshadow Romney later in the week
Much as Hurricane Gustav did on the first night of the 2008 RNC in St. Paul, Minnesota, a major storm has the potential to overshadow the proceedings and stir memories of the Bush administration's bungling of Hurricane Katrina. Isaac has New Orleans in its sights, putting Republicans in the extremely awkward position of trying to show sympathy for residents of a frequently battered region while not letting their moment on national television go to waste. One conservative commentator even suggested that Republicans could seize the day by turning the convention into a relief telethon if the storm turns out to be really bad. The storm may have cleared out of Tampa but that doesn't mean Republicans have stopped watching Isaac closely. They last thing they want is networks using a split screen to broadcast Romney's convention speech and people being plucked from rooftops in flooded neighborhoods.
The question on the minds of many yesterday was, "Where are the protesters?" Well, for starters the fortress around the convention area makes it hard for demonstrators to get anywhere near the action. It is extremely difficult to get around without proper credentials, and heavily armed officials are numerous. Yesterday's protests were small in size. Some chalked up the poor attendance to concerns over the weather. The small size of the protests created awkward visuals of protesters largely outnumbered by a massive police presence. Late last night in Ybor City a protest march broke out on the main strip. But as the number of marchers dwindled to a dozen or so, the event devolved into this:
And this happened:
5. Gary Johnson
Yes, the Libertarian presidential nominee is here in Florida. Johnson spent much of yesterday talking with various local and national media outlets. In the evening the former New Mexico governor went to an event sponsored by a coalition of Latino Republican groups. Johnson was well received by those in attendance, posing for pictures and signing autographs. Johnson has events in Fort Myers and Naples today, several hours away from all the action in Tampa.
Musical Act of The Day: 3 Doors Down.
Remember those guys? According to the RNC schedule they are the opening act for Chris Christie.
Three Events To Check Out:
Stars & Stripes Shoot Out
Tampa Bay Sporting Clays and Archery
Minnestoa and Iowa Luncheon with Peter Schiff
St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts
LGBT @ The RNC: Oxymoron or Happy Marriage?