Locals prepare for GOP convention

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On Monday afternoon, Neal E. Boyd did a sound check for "God Bless the USA" inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Since 1980, he has watched the Republican National Convention on television. Now he is there in person, for the first time, and will sing today before 50,000 people as part of the festivities surrounding the likely nomination of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for president. His performance will be around 7 p.m. Central time.

"I'm so excited. It's an honor," Boyd said shortly after arriving in Tampa on Monday.

Boyd plans to visit with delegates from Texas, Michigan and Missouri during his visit as well. Boyd is running against Democratic Rep. Steve Hodges in the Missouri House's 149th District, which includes parts of Mississippi, Pemiscot, New Madrid and Scott counties.

Equally excited to attend his first national convention is Scott R. Clark, a delegate for the 8th Congressional District who arrived Sunday. He spent Monday morning at a breakfast hosted by Sen. Roy Blunt, where former senator Jim Talent spoke about Missouri's role in national defense, before venturing out through occasional drizzle and sudden downpours to tour the large arena where the convention will kick off today, one day late due to the threat of a tropical storm in the Gulf.

Locals attending the convention as delegates, volunteers or as representatives of associated political groups are facing a shuffled schedule because of cancellations of events Monday but say so far work toward the official nomination of a Republican candidate for president is moving along as the process should.

The threat to Tampa from tropical storm and hurricane conditions passed Monday, but the possibility the storm could affect states to the west is a main topic of conversation and a concern for Republicans.

"It does make it a little harder and more solemn around here," Clark said. "But there is still business to be done by the party, and we are working on that."

Other locals at the convention include Kathy Swan as an alternate and Holly Lintner as representative for the Pachyderms Club.

During the convention, more than 2,200 delegates and 2,125 alternate delegates from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories spend the days leading up to the official nomination attending meetings to work on petitions, vote on the party's national platform and make decisions on rules and credentials. Most of delegates' time is spent at the smaller events, mixed with time to socialize with other party members.

"Those are some of the things that happen that you don't see on TV," Clark said.

Main events, such as the high-profile speeches by candidates are televised, but locals attending say there is much more going on.

"It's ultimately about unifying the party and getting everyone behind one person," Clark said.

Delegates range from state party leaders to chairs of county GOP clubs.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

Tampa, Fla.

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