Delegates Get Down to Business at the RNCAugust 28, 2012
AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz will report from the Republican National Convention this week and from the Democratic National Convention next week. Follow her updates at AAUW Dialog, on Facebook, and @LisaMaatz on Twitter.
The circus has come to Florida, and it’s called the campaign press corps. Of course, the media is all over the story of Hurricane Isaac, as they should be. But they’re all over Tampa, too. I met some people for drinks last night just outside the MSNBC stage — a gorgeous outdoor studio setting that, in hindsight, may not have been the best choice. Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Brian Williams, and other pundits and news people can be seen bustling in and out, and so can the politicians they’re grilling.
Speaking of grills, just as in past conventions, the CNN Grill is a favorite hotspot. Want to see and be seen at the 2012 Republican National Convention? Hang out here, and you’ll have a ringside seat to The Situation Room, where a string of politicians and reporters peddle their opinions on the airwaves. Yes, it’s really a restaurant, but it also has a small set where Wolf Blitzer, Candy Crowley, and company pontificate when they aren’t inside the convention hall — the Tampa Bay Times Forum. If the convention gods are with me, I’ll be eating lunch at the CNN Grill sometime today.
All the major news networks have studios inside the forum, along with roving reporters who prowl the delegate floor looking for notables to interview. Republican members of Congress and governors are automatically members of their states’ delegations, and reporters love to pigeonhole them on the floor. The reporters also tend to showcase the wackiest convention delegates. You know who I mean — the people who are outrageous both in word and deed and likely are dressed in some fantastic red, white, and blue costumes. Yes, the delegates like to have fun. They all stay together, state by state, in the various convention hotels. If you’re lucky, you’ll score tickets to one of the many state parties. Texas is always the big one at the GOP convention, while California is the hot ticket for the Democrats.
But delegates also have some serious work to do. They must finalize the party’s platform, a statement of the party’s policies that has received an unusual amount of attention and dissent after Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s comments regarding “legitimate rape” and reproductive rights. AAUW submitted comments to the Republican National Convention platform committee for their consideration as they put together their platform. Based on our own AAUW member-adopted Public Policy Program, these comments ensure that AAUW is part of the process in a meaningful way.
Today, the delegates must do the official roll call that formally nominates Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan for the Republican ticket. This traditional ritual has rules of its own, so watch for the media to key in on Michigan, Massachusetts, and Utah. These states will have pride of place in the proceedings because they have special meaning for Romney. And Wisconsin will get its chance to brag about native Ryan too. Speaking of delegates, today I’ll be searching out some of the AAUW members who are part of the convention’s delegate body. I know for sure there’s AAUW representation in the Ohio delegation — I’m not at all surprised that my home state had the good taste to elect an AAUW member to their ranks! For all of us, today the Republican National Convention really gets down to business — and the media will be there to dissect it in all its glorious detail.