Local GOP delegates grade Tampa as convention site

Local GOP delegates grade Tampa as convention site


by NewsChannel 36 Staff


Posted on August 30, 2012 at 5:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 30 at 6:11 PM

TAMPA – On Thursday night Mitt Romney will make the most important speech of his political career, and another guest hopes to make his day as actor Clint Eastwood will appear on stage.

In just a few days, the political madness heads to Charlotte, and the Queen City can learn from Tampa.

Tampa is an area that caters to tourists, and North Carolina delegates are giving them rave reviews for hospitality.

"Folks on the street have been just marvelous and (they) couldn't have found a better place, I don't think, for us to spend four to five days," said NC delegate Barry Eckman.

While not every volunteer has the information delegates and the media need, they get an A for effort.

"They've been extremely helpful.  So pleasant at the convention center and here.  They couldn't have done more for us. They've been wonderful," added delegate Helen Eckman.

North Carolina delegate Ann Sullivan is getting a lot of media attention for her colorful outfits, including one photo that landed in Thursday morning's USA Today.

"It's a conversation piece," Sullivan said.

There's a lot of conversation about problems with the delegate shuttle bus system. 

"We got back here to the hotel at quarter till three (AM). We sat on a bus for over two hours in a parking lot," Sullivan said.

That shuttle bus fiasco prompted an apology from the national Republican Party and some quick changes.  The media shuttle continues to cause problems for some of the thousands of reporters on a tight deadline, and getting through the massive maze of security can be a challenge.

In terms of getting through security lines, delegate Ben Lynch of Salisbury gave an A-minus grade.

“Very little hitches along the way.  Communication with some of the folks to ask where to go has been an issue because a lot of people are transplants from somewhere else for this event.  But honestly, they've done a remarkable job," Lynch noted.

Despite the predictions of violent protests on the streets, it has been peaceful, with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Rodney Monroe taking notes.

And after months of warnings about gridlock on Tampa Bay roads, it has been a breeze, smooth sailing for North Carolina delegates crossing Tampa Bay.

As the political train rolls into Charlotte, North Carolina Republican delegate Dr. Ada Fisher had some advice.

"We hope when they come to Charlotte, we're not pulling for the Democrats, we want North Carolina to look good,” Dr. Fisher said.  “So, we hope Charlotte extends the same kinds of courtesies that we have had extended here in Tampa Bay."