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Reports from the Republican National Convention

Final report from the convention

August 30, 2012

Only one thing is certain when attending the Republican National Convention as an intern: You will be exhausted by the last day of proceedings. From running errands, to conducting interviews, to writing stories and taking pictures, interns at the convention never have a dull moment. I have never been so busy and so excited at the same time.

One of the most exciting opportunities I had was writing an article about the Google “media lounge” in the Tampa Convention Center. I interviewed Tara Wall, Romney’s senior campaign adviser, and was able to ask her fun questions about social media and digital integration affecting politics. The article was published on My Fox Tampa Bay’s website and is called “Google’s media lounge: recharge, relax, report” (http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/19399387/2012/08/28/google-media-center-rnc).

The Tampa Convention Center is overflowing with celebrities and political figures. After meeting Taylor Hicks, Jon Voight, Newt Gingrich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, (DNC chair) Debbie Wasserman Schultz, MSNBC anchors and numerous delegates, I almost completely forgot the whole point of the Republican National Convention —to nominate Mitt Romney for president!

My fieldwork wouldn’t let me forget, however.

During the afternoon on the final day of the convention, I was asked to go to the Forum floor and wait with a camera, because Mitt Romney might come down for a microphone check. I waited, and waited and waited.

Suddenly, all of the hot-shot photographers from the Associated Press started bustling and removing the lens caps from their cameras. I’m a total amateur photographer. I struggled with the lens cap on the fancy camera in my hands, but I was able to snap a few photos of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as they passed within 15 feet of me. SUCCESS!

They were so close to where I was standing, I could’ve reached out and touched them. (I also snapped a quick picture on my iPhone for proof of the incredible moment!)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan walk towards the convention stage for a sound check. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan walk towards the convention stage for a sound check. 

Later that evening, during the convention speeches, I was busy turning TV scripts into articles for the website. However, I was able to listen to Clint Eastwood, Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney’s speeches! It was the most incredible experience of my life.

The most exciting moment, of course, was when Mitt officially accepted the nomination and his family joined him on stage. More than 100,000 red, white and blue balloons were released from the ceiling with plenty of confetti cascading to the ground.

The Washington Center’s Political Conventions Seminar was an absolutely phenomenal experience. I was able to attend the convention every night, listen to almost all of the speeches, meet celebrities and political figures, and obtain a professional experience through my fieldwork.

If you ever attend one of the national political conventions, make sure to take your laptop everywhere you go, always have business cards on hand, have a cell phone charger with you at all times, and be prepared for anything!

RNC acceptance photo

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann celebrate with GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and his wife Jenna.

Party like a delegate

August 27, 2012

Last night, my roommate and I were lucky enough to “party like a delegate.” We attended the invitation-only Republican National Convention kickoff party at Tropicana Field!

Thousands of delegates, guests and VIPs were in attendance, despite the impending tropical storm, to wine and dine on delicious “Florida-style” cuisine and red, white and blue cocktails.

Rodney Atkins, a country singer, headlined the event and made the crowd go wild when he sang “Take a Back Road.” Country music isn’t your taste? Don’t worry — plenty of other entertainment was at the event to please delegates and VIPs with other musical preferences. Performers dressed as pirates, stilt-walkers and animal handlers from Busch Gardens roamed the party with flamingos and a bald eagle.

I only have one word to describe this: INCREDIBLE.

A few things became clear very quickly:

  1. Pennsylvania delegates are the sweetest, most awesome people you will meet.
  2. North Carolina delegates are a close second (Go, Duke!).
  3. You need to bring “swag” with you to all parties: Delegates like to trade state pins, media pins and other memorabilia from various states. The delegate with the most swag wins!
  4. Bring business cards with you … everywhere. Network, network, network.

The first day of the RNC was cancelled because of the storm, but it seems to have veered west. Now we just hope it doesn’t hit other states and cause any serious damage.

Even though things in Tampa look safe, some of the RNC events and parties likely will be canceled in recognition of the other states that may be affected by the storm.  

Lucie at the convention.

Lucie Fremeau poses for a picture with Karen Evans, an intern with the Dallas Morning News
in Dallas, Texas, at an invitation-only Republican National Convention kickoff party.

Mario, a student at Cal U, and I also attended the DNC’s “counter-convention.” It was held with Obama For America, and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (chair of the Democratic National Committee) spoke about why Mitt Romney’s economic plans are bad for the middle class. In fact, the name of the “war room” was “Romney Economics: Wrong for the Middle Class.”

The convention officially begins tomorrow, and I can’t wait to share more about my experience there!

Almost ready

August 24, 2012

The vibe in Tampa has definitely grown livelier since the arrival of many delegates. Last night, a few of us were lucky enough to have a conversation with a member of Colorado’s delegation. He is a delegate, a pro-gun lobbyist, and the founder and director of a “no compromise” Second Amendment group.

I had never before met a pro-gun lobbyist, so it was certainly very thought-provoking to hear his opinions on this issue. The Aurora movie theater shooting also became a topic of discussion because of the delegate’s home state and his views on guns. One thing everyone could agree on was the tragedy of that event.

On a lighter note, we were able to tour the Tampa Bay Times Forum. We even saw the new stage and podium that were built just for the RNC!

Construction crews prepare stage at the Republican National Convention. Construction crews put the finishing touches on a custom-built stage for the Republican National Convention. 

It is incredible how much the building has been transformed and the amount of work that has gone into the event. Pictures of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are scattered throughout some of the floors, tons of media boxes have been created just for the RNC, and GOP Convention signs adorn every hallway. I can’t wait to see the Forum once the construction is finished.

Today was the first day of my fieldwork position: I have been placed with a local TV station and Fox News affiliate. I’ll be helping out with social media and the Web team, so I’m very excited to get more great experience with digital media.

I know that I’ll be doing a little bit of social coverage on protestors at the convention, which will be very exciting!

Seminar Series

August 22, 2012

Today was day two of the Campaign 2012 Seminar Series, and we have already had three fascinating lectures from distinguished speakers with varied political backgrounds. Former Congressman Mickey Edwards, Emmy award-winning journalist Aaron Brown, and Professor Michael Genovese, who is a specialist on the American presidency, all shared their expertise with us.

It has been so exciting to hear about politics, the national conventions, and journalism from professionals with vast experiences in these topics. We are able (and encouraged) to ask questions, interview the speakers, and have candid conversations with the speakers. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

A few topics that have piqued my interest are the role of independent voters in the upcoming election, the differences in the 2012 political conventions, and the pros and cons of a polarized political system.

Delegates and the media have begun arriving at our hotel! We are in the hub of activity, and things will keep getting more and more exciting as the convention nears. 

We're in Tampa!

August 20, 2012 

The Cal U students have arrived in Tampa! We’re here for The Washington Center’s political seminar at the Republican National Convention, and I can already feel the excitement. There are banners, flags, posters and signs all over downtown Tampa and the surrounding cities that advertise the Republican National Convention.

The Tampa Bay Times Forum has been prepped for the convention and has huge red, white, and blue banners that also advertise the convention’s official Twitter hashtag: #GOP2012. There are covered, air-conditioned walkways in a few locations surrounding the area that will be the convention’s hub of activity.

Outside view of the Tampa Convention Center.

The Tampa Bay Times Forum is getting ready for the
Republican National Convention.

We are preparing alternate routes to various locations, because we have been told that many roads will be closed for security reasons in the upcoming week and during the convention; the city is totally transforming as it prepares for 150,000 people to arrive at the convention! I’m sure the city will continue to come to life as delegates begin arriving at the end of the week.

Convention Details

Aug. 27-30
Tampa, Fla.

Republican National Convention logo.

Fox News

While at the Rebulican National Convention, Fox News in Tampa Bay, Fla. published a story by Lucie on Google's media lounge. Read her story

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