TAMPA, FL — It’s fitting that one of the most enduring images of the 2012 Republican National Convention was Clint Eastwood’s empty chair, since the main purpose of the confab was crowning Mitt Romney as the titular leader of the party, finally filling the seat of GOP power that has remained more or less vacant since John McCain was vanquished by President Barack Obama four years ago.
As the saying goes, when you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die. After his defeat in 2008, Mr. McCain didn’t even bother joining the primary combatants vying to lead the elephant herd into battle against President Obama in this year’s race. His second, Sarah Palin, didn’t have a place in the primaries or at the convention in Tampa. Instead, she was banished to her Facebook page, where she railed against her overlords at Fox News for canceling all of her scheduled appearances, in which she’d hoped to take to the airwaves in praise of Mr. McCain on the night of his RNC cameo.
Like any coronation, last week’s convention was supposed to be a time for Mr. Romney’s fellow Republicans to rally around him and march into combat by his side. However, the ascent of the House of Romney was accomplished without the blessing of the conservative and libertarian factions of the party. As a result, Tampa became a theater for the sorts of behind-the-scenes drama, intrigue and power plays that so often accompany these matters of dynastic succession. Though ostensibly acting as standard bearers for Mr. Romney, the other lords of the GOP seemed to be more interested in plotting their own ascendancies four years from now than in following Mitt into battle against President Obama.
TAMPA, FL — Mitt Romney is currently on stage at the Republican National Convention. During his speech, a group of protesters attempted to interrupt the proceedings by shouting from the seats above the convention floor. Audience members drowned them out with chants of, “USA! USA! USA!”
Politicker was unable to hear the protesters from our spot on the convention floor, but, according to journalist Andrew Coyne, they were waving pink banners and shouting, “People over profits!” The protesters were quickly removed by security personnel. Dan Libit of the Daily said the protesters were affiliated with the activist group Code Pink, which staged a similar interruption during Paul Ryan’s speech yesterday.
TAMPA, FL — Along with all the red staters at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, there are several Obama For America staffers who are monitoring the events from an office they’re calling the “Romney Economics: Wrong for the Middle Class War Room” and one Republican National Committee staffer has repeatedly attempted to get behind enemy lines and into the Obama campaign’s convention outpost. This morning, Obama For America Director of Rapid Response Lis Smith tweeted that Tim Miller, the digitally savvy deputy communications director of the Republican National Committee had tried and failed to infiltrate the Democrats’ convention war room.
“@Timodc’s attempts to crash our office have been even less successful than @MittRomney’s reinvention convention. Not an easy feat,” Ms. Smith wrote, referring to Mr. Miller by his Twitter handle.
Guns of the Southwest
TAMPA, FL — Former presidential candidate and Governor of Texas Rick Perry is quite possibly carrying a weapon on the streets of Tampa as he attends the Republican National Convention. We spotted Mr. Perry a few moments ago walking into the CNN Grill, which the cable network set up to provide politicians and journalists a place to mingle and unwind during the RNC festivities. Since he has a well-documented “long love affair” with firearms Politicker asked Mr. Perry whether he was “packing” at the RNC.
“You never know, that’s why they call it a concealed weapon,” Mr. Perry said with a chuckle and a pat on his hip as he made his way into the Grill.
TAMPA, FL — Paul Ryan is a devotee of the “extreme home fitness” routine P90X and at least one personal trainer is hoping other attendees at the Republican National Convention will follow his example. Politicker spotted P90X coach Rob Dubsky standing on the street just outside the RNC security perimeter this afternoon wearing a shirt that said “Bring It” and waving a sign encouraging convention-goers to “FOLLOW YOUR LEADER” featuring his web address: “WWW.GOP90X.com.
“This is my first day out here,” Mr. Dubsky said. “A lot of the police, the military here seem to relate with me.”
TAMPA, FL — Newt Gingrich, who regularly sparred with what he described as the “elite media” during the Republican primaries, is now working with The Washington Post Company.
At this week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Mr. Gingrich is debuting “Newt University,” a series of academic-style classes he’s conducting at a Hyatt hotel near the RNC festivities. Newt University is being “presented by the Republican National Committee,” which has paid KAPx, a division of the educational company Kaplan to run the courses. As noted on the Newt University website, Kaplan is “the largest subsidiary of The Washington Post Company” and is wholly owned by the media company.
TAMPA, FL — To hear the horde of reporters that have descended on Tampa tell it, the Republican National Convention is a treacherous landscape with the threat of a massive hurricane, machete wielding anarchists, roving bands of Scientologists, nymphomaniac strippers and death metal. The political press corps, in their endless search for intriguing narratives, is often prone to exaggeration and groupthink, but since American Airlines waylaid your humble Politicker correspondent for nearly eighteen hours, thus far, we have only been able to get a sense of the reality inside the RNC security perimeter through leadup coverage and dispatches from other reporters warning of a potentially chaotic powder keg of protests and severe weather that left us wondering just how bad of a situation the GOP has gotten us all into out here.
The progressive activist group UnitedNY is sending a group of people who have “worked for various companies owned by Bain Capital” to Tampa to serve as “ambassadors for the 99%” at the Republican National Convention. UnitedNY announced their convention plans today via a press release inviting reporters to watch the Bain workers depart from JFK on Saturday.
“The workers traveling to Tampa have worked for various companies owned by Bain Capital, a private equity firm Mitt Romney founded in 1984. They will participate in protests to draw attention to the harmful effects a “Romney-Ryan” economy would have on the vast majority of Americans,” the press release said.
Law & Order
With Republicans and sex workers flocking to next week’s Republican National Convention, police officers in Tampa conducted a two day undercover sting to bust strippers selling sexual favors at the city’s many adult entertainment venues. According to a press release issued by the Tampa police department, the strip club sting was launched “as a result of information that prostitutes may be coming into Tampa to work in adult establishments during the RNC.”
Politicians aren’t the only ones making preparations with the Democratic and Republican national conventions fast approaching. Swingers and strip club owners are making plans of their own that will ensure things stay decidedly steamy at the quadrennial political confabs in Charlotte and Tampa. The Politicker perused through local ads on Craigslist and found several sexual convention listings including a casting call for “HOT Beer Tub Girls,” a couple looking for a third playmate and an allegedly married member of the RNC host committee in Tampa trying to arrange a rendezvous with another man.