The Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., wrapped up this week with an explosion of colorful balloons and patriotic music, said Tom McInnis of Richmond County, who was there serving as a stand-in delegate.
“It was a fabulous experience,” said McInnis on Friday, on his way home, tired but happy. “The emotions and energy were just out the top. We had great people from North Carolina on the floor and at the end we had seating in the gallery, right below CBS and CNN, and we could see Wolf Blitzer.”
McInnis said the convention was much better than the 2004 convention he attended at Madison Square Garden.
“New York didn’t have the energy and the power of Tampa,” said McInnis.
McInnis was there for the big moment late Thursday night when the Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, took the stage.
“Romney’s was the best speech I’ve heard him give. He touched on all bases. His emphasis was in making the country better and making families stronger,” he said.
McInnis said several strong speakers shared their stories, which were often emotional and powerful. Women from Romney’s church spoke, the Governor of New Mexico spoke, and McInnis also got to hear former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speak.
“It just brings a chill to your spine when she tells her story,” said McInnis. “She’s one of the most powerful women in the world.”
McInnis, serving as a stand-in delegate for six delegates from each Congressional district, did get to stand in for a delegate.
“I had to stand in for two hours on Tuesday and last night (Thursday),” he said. “I got to vote to accept the nomination and I voted to end the convention.”
Although political big wigs got most of the attention, McInnis got several chances to be in the spotlight himself.
“I was interviewed by News 14 and WRAL,” said McInnis. “I was also seen on the big screen when Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina, was speaking. It was neat. I started getting texts and emails and phone calls from my friends who had seen me on TV.”
In the days leading up to the Republican National Convention, the nation watched with anticipation as Tropical Storm Isaac was set to make landfall during the week. Weather forecasters warned that it could affect the convention, but soon the storm changed course.
“We only had a little rain but when we got there it had blown west,” said McInnis. “But the humidity was so high you could squeeze water out of the air. It was suffocatingly hot. It was hard to breath because I wasn’t used to it.”
All week, media outlets showed pictures of various protests and gatherings outside the convention, although many delegates didn’t notice.
“If there were any protesters, we didn’t see them. Security was prepared for the worst,” said McInnis.
He did not hesitate to have a good time while he was there.
“There was a party every night and the best was Taste of the South which featured food from each of the southern states,” he said.
North Carolina was featured in the form of barbecue and crab cakes with a legal brand of moonshine as the signature drink of the state. South Carolina featured mustard barbecue and shrimp and grits, and Tennessee’s signature drink was Jack Daniels, among the spread.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.