By Ken Brown
Special to The Times
TAMPA, Fla. —
If you watched the convention, you heard the speakers, including Ann Romney and Gov Chris Christie. A few personal notes: Security is very tight with a Secret Service and police cordon established for many blocks around the convention center. We have seen no protesters. If they are here, they are being kept far away from us. The convention center is packed with delegates, alternate delegates, guests and a huge press corps, both national and international, numbering in the thousands. Seating on the floor is very tight, not real comfortable and the air conditioning is barely keeping up. The convention food is poor, with little variety and high prices. But, none of that is what we are here for and the place is full of political junkies like me, who have worked hard to get here and would not miss a moment.
Our Alabama Delegation has been treated to a long line of high profile speakers at our daily two hour hotel breakfast, five miles from the convention center. We understand we have managed to land a much greater number of morning speakers than any of the other 49 delegations here. Our Wednesday morning line up today included: Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas Republican Senate Candidate and Tea Party Star Ted Cruz, former Secretary of State Condi Rice, our national GOP Chairman Reince Preibus, Mitt Romney's Son Tag, last night's key note speaker Gov Chris Christie and Weekly Standard Editor and Fox News Contributor Fred Barnes. It is one thing to see these people on TV or in a huge convention center, but quite another to see and hear them up close and personal in a small breakfast room, holding about 120 people.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY:
Governor Perry said "Republican governors, like several you heard last night, are showing the way the nation should be led. They are balancing budgets, wiping out deficits, standing up to teacher's unions and growing surpluses. I believe America longs for leaders who will lead and will tell them the truth. We need to deliver this nation back to it's roots of free enterprise, less government and less regulation, where business owners know they can invest, grow and hire more people."
Texas Senate Candidate Cruz said "This election is much like the one of 1980 when we had a liberal, clueless President who was turned out by Gov Reagan. This President is the most far left person to ever hold the office and Americans are concluding he is not in the mainstream of American life or thought. It took a Jimmy Carter to give us a Reagan. It has taken a Barack Obama to give us a Romney.We will win the White House and Senate this year. Bet on it."
Condi Rice said "This election is a time of consequence. Americans have a lack of confidence that we still have our edge. We must begin to deal with entitlements that we can no longer afford before they destroy our economy and our ability to maintain a strong national defense. We are not speaking clearly in our current foreign policy and are allies and adversaries don't know where we stand. This is very dangerous in a very dangerous world. Some say America's best days are over but Republicans believe we haven't begun to see what America can do. The media doesn't want to hear our message so lets go around them and speak to everyone we know. Obama will lose Alabama so reach out elsewhere and make a difference. Pick up the phone or use facebook. Finally, lets get past this class, gender and race warfare sillyness. We are all Americans. It doesn't matter where you came from but where you are going.America is about opportunity. Republicans are about opportunity. Lets go out and win this critical contest."
GOP Chairman Preibus said "He and Vice President Candidate Paul Ryan grew up near each other in small town Wisconsin and are good friends. They share a motto and say it to each other all the time. It is--Live the mission, wait on God's timing, and good things will happen. I will say little about Obama other than to say he is not your Daddy's Democrat. He is so far to the left of the Democrat Party that your Daddy wouldn't recognize him. I will talk about Mitt Romney. He has always led and he has always excelled at what he has done. Democrats are pounding him for being wealthy. Excellence and success should be admired not criticized. We all want success for ourselves but especially for our kids. Success is a good thing. This year, Democrats have no success and no message, Republicans have a positive message of hard work, being responsible and being successful. That my friends is what America has always been and still is all about."
Tag Romney said "I'm not here to talk policy, I'm here to tell you about my Dad. Most of you know my Dad saved the Olympics a few years back. Most don't know he did it for free--no pay--but for his country. When he arrived there, the Olympics were $400 million in debt. When he finished the job, we had a $100 million profit. His first day, he asked to meet the Board of Directors. They set up a big luncheon at a popular restaurant. My Dad said no. Why are we wasting money on a fancy lunch? These guys can buy their lunch. He ordered pizza in and everyone paid a buck per piece. It was a clear signal of where he was going to take them. When I was 16, I took out a small boat, near our house to fish. I rowed out in the ocean and dropped the anchor. After awhile, I noticed I was drifting. I discovered I hadn't tied the anchor rope to the boat and the anchor was gone. When I got home and told my Dad, he said, go back and find it. I smarted off and said you go back and find it. He took me back, we rowed out, did a search and found it. I learned three lessons that day:1. Dad is cheap! He doesn't like to waste money or time. 2. By initiative and effort, you can get through some challenges and 3. he didn't care about the anchor. He cared about me. I will tell you, my Dad will do what he says and he will never, ever shame this great country. Please help me get him elected."
Governor Christie said "This President is clueless on how to fix our problems because he is clueless on how to lead. He is in a dark room feeling around for the leadership light switch. He hasn't found it in three and one half years and he won't find it in the next 70 days. You heard my speech last night. I won't bore you by giving it again. I will tell you a Mitt and Ann Romney story. Earlier this year, Mitt called on a Friday and asked if he and Ann could drop by our house and chat the next day. I said sure. Then my Wife and I realized the reality of what I had agreed to and spent the night cleaning the house. We got our two older and two younger kids at the breakfast table the next day and said, you know the next President of the United States is coming today, yadda, yadda. We had the talk about manners. We asked them to be polite, introduce themselves and then get lost to let us talk. The first part went as planned. We adjourned to the back yard patio. Our youngest son then came out on his skateboard. Mitt asked him all about it. He said he liked to ice skate too. He and Mitt talked for 15 minutes about skating and hockey. When our eight year old daughter showed up to do cartwheels and hand stands, Mitt went out in the grass with her, spotted her a few times and spent time talking with her. So, what’s the point of this story? When I vote for someone, I want to know they have a good heart. Mitt didn't tolerate these kids. He engaged with them. He is a Dad and Grand Dad. Before he left the house that day, he asked if he could have my support. I said, I'm all in. Three days later, I flew to New Hampshire and endorsed Mitt Romney for President."
Fred Barnes said "If you want to look at polls and understand them, look at Presidential approval numbers. Obama is at 43 percent in yesterday's Gallup poll. That number is usually pretty close to the percentage of the national vote a sitting President will get. That means for this pre-labor day point in the race, Obama is in serious trouble. The consumer confidence number is also a key indicator of the progress of the race and it dropped a whopping six points last week. We are now seeing Senate seats considered safely in the Democrat column coming into play in states like Conneticut, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Virginia. The Republicans only have to net gain 3-4 seats to control the Senate and current indicators are that things are moving in their direction.”
* Ken Brown is chairman of the Cullman County Republican Party and is serving as a delegate for Alabama at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.