Reports of bad weather in Tampa, Fla., caused by Tropical Storm Isaac has done little to dampen the enthusiasm of Middle Georgia delegates to the Republican National Convention.
Though many of Monday’s scheduled events were canceled or postponed until later this week because of the weather threat, delegates have found much to occupy their time.
Jason Downey, the Bibb County school board’s District 6 representative-elect, is one of the state’s 76 voting delegates and one of three representing the 8th Congressional District. Downey said many delegates are using their free time to visit local attractions, such as Busch Gardens, or to meet other delegates.
Downey met thousands of delegates from across the country Sunday night at Tropicana Field.
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“It was wild over there,” he said, adding that he took a picture inside one of the dugouts where the Tampa Bay Rays play their home games. “There were just thousands of people there.”
Vivian Childs, GOP chairwoman for the 8th Congressional District that oversees 24 counties, said even with many of Monday’s events canceled, there was still a breakfast for delegates in which she got to meet Fox News pundit Frank Luntz and Virginia’s Gov. Bob McDonnell.
“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “I’ve been staying busy. ... There’s been a lot of networking and mingling.”
Childs and Downey -- both attending the Republican National Convention for the first time -- will cast their votes for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., for vice president. Childs originally was a delegate for Republican candidate Newt Gingrich, while Downey was a delegate for Rick Santorum. But both former candidates released their delegates to support Romney.
Even though Downey originally was assigned to be a Santorum delegate earlier this year, he’s now, Romney’s Bibb County campaign manager.
“When you’re assigned to become a delegate, you have no say-so who you’re assigned to,” he said. “Hopefully, the delegation will have a unanimous vote for Romney, but there’s one woman who said she’ll cast her vote for (U.S. Rep.) Ron Paul (R-Texas). It’s caused a little bit of frustration, but Romney has far more delegates than he needs. We’re still discussing it.”
While the convention is supposed to be a time for Republicans to come together, Downey said there’s been a lot of discussion centered on various issues in the party’s platform.
“We may see the Ron Paul supporters and the tea party supporters speak at the business part of the platform” Tuesday, Downey said.
Besides the keynote speeches of Romney and Ryan, Childs and Downey both said they are eager to hear former Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice speak during the convention. Childs also is looking forward to the speech by Romney’s wife, Ann, while Downey wants to hear what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens are going to say.
“Sam Olens has been in the forefront in the fight against Obamacare, and you never know what Chris Christie is going to say,” Downey said.
Christie and Ann Romney are slated to speak Tuesday, and Rice, Olens and Ryan are scheduled to address convention-goers Wednesday. Mitt Romney formally will accept the nomination and give the keynote speech Thursday night.
“It’s a pretty packed schedule,” Childs said. “There’s going to be many great speakers over the next three days.”
Downey said he plans to give his floor pass to some of the alternates and guests for the Georgia delegation to allow them the experience of being on the convention floor. But he added with a chuckle that he doesn’t plan on being too generous.
“The floor passes are all mine when Romney and Ryan speak,” he said.
Downey said he’s constantly updating his Twitter account with what’s going on at the convention. To check it out visit @JasonEDowneyLaw on Twitter.