Two area men are among the thousands of political movers and shakers forced to wait out weather that forced the postponement of the first day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Dr. Naren James of Stanford and Garrard County Attorney Mark Metcalf of Lancaster, both alternate delegates representing Kentucky, arrived in Florida to find Monday’s festivities were a wash because Tropical Storm Isaac was still churning off shore. Although James had spent more time in his hotel room than expected, he described the intermittent rain, wind and glimpses of sunshine Monday as typical Florida weather.
Although the storm now appears headed for the Louisiana coast, Monday’s session was convened and quickly adjourned. The speakers scheduled to appear Monday will be folded into the rest of today and Wednesday’s slate, with the schedule for Thursday, when Mitt Romney is expected to accept the nomination, remaining mostly unchanged.
So James and Metcalf said the atmosphere among the party operatives has been cheery ahead of the formality of officially nominating Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
“By their very nature, conventions are positive and forward looking,” Metcalf said.
It is the fourth GOP convention for Metcalf. He was there in 1980 when former “Gipper” and California Gov. Ronald Reagan won the nomination on his way to the presidency; in 2000 when then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush swept through Philadelphia; and the 2008 convention in Minneapolis that nominated Sen. John McCain and formally introduced the world to Sarah Palin.
The party has needed to galvanize support for a non-incumbent during each of the conventions he’s been a part of. Thematically, Metcalf said there are similarities to the 1980 convention, when Regan was carried to victory by emphasizing tax reform, military might and deregulation, but all of the events ultimately take on a life of their own.
“No convention is really like any other convention,” Metcalf said. “They all have their own flavor due to the city you are in and the issues of the moment.”
Metcalf said he expects to hear more about taxation, job creation and rolling back regulation of private business, issues Romney has sought to emphasize and Ryan already has begun to hammer home.
It is all new to James, a self-described “policy wonk,” who is on the ballot for Stanford City Council. The hobnobbing and political power-brokering were expected, but he was somewhat surprised by security measures that included armed escorts for buses transporting delegates to and from the hotel.
Both men are looking forward to hearing some of the party’s up and coming talent, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who were both considered as vice-presidential picks.
Of special interest to James will also be Kentucky’s Rand Paul, the first-term U.S. senator who has become an icon of the Tea Party movement. James said he identified himself as more sympathetic to the Tea Party platform on a form he submitted to convention organizers, mostly because he agrees with the assertion that the federal government has strayed from the Constitution.
“I think the choice of Paul Ryan was right on the mark,” James said. “The ticket seemed to be going nowhere. Ryan is in sync with a lot of rank-and-file party members and also the activists in the party. He seems willing to be more bold in articulating his message.”
Metcalf said he has heard Romney on the stump and is confident in his ability to communicate with the convention and television crowds.
“I have seen Gov. Romney on the stump and he is very persuasive,” Metcalf said. “I look forward to hearing him address (taxation, jobs and deregulation) in front of the nation.”