Entries in Tampa (14)


Exclusive: Secret Menu Details Perks, Access for Elite Romney Donors

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Hours before Gov. Mitt Romney accepts the Republican nomination for President in Tampa, he will have a two-hour lunch with some of his most elite donors -- the group known as the Romney Victory Council. The lunch is part of a whirlwind schedule laid out for Romney's most elite fundraisers, a copy of which was obtained by ABC News.

Marked "Confidential," the schedule offers a rare inside look at how the Republican National Convention is playing out for those who have raised and donated the most to see Romney elected.

Council members will have breakfast with Condoleezza Rice this morning and cocktails with the Republican leaders of the Congress this evening. They will be toasted at an "appreciation reception" with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell aboard the Cracker Bay Yacht. They will enjoy a special audience with Ann Romney on Thursday, and a political briefing from the candidate's senior political staff.

Much is made of the convention spending by lobbyists and special interests looking to use golf outings and concerts to lubricate their relationships with high-ranking politicians. But the nurturing of major donors has become an equally important staple of the political conventions -- though on a scale that appears to grow with each campaign cycle, according to Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig.

"It is part of a system, an economy of influence," Lessig told ABC News. "And if you don't play in that economy, you don't have the access and influence you need."

In a presidential campaign where the contenders will combine to raise well over $1 billion, the techniques for rewarding top donors with titles and attention have been carefully honed -- with the rewarding of special monikers, briefings from campaign insiders, and exclusive retreats all part of every campaign's playbook.

While Romney's campaign has said little about the campaign's fundraising program, the Wall Street Journal reported last week that Council members have committed to raise $1 million, while others, such as "Stars," have raised at least $250,000 and "Stripes," have raised at least $500,000.

President Obama's campaign has a similar program. A National Finance Committee of Obama's top bundlers -- those who raise at least $500,000 for his campaign -- attends quarterly meetings to hear from top campaign officials, including a two-day session held in Chicago in June.

In Tampa, top Romney supporters have been treated like high rollers in Las Vegas. Much of that occurs in hidden rooms on high floors of luxury hotels and in luxury boxes inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the building where the convention itself is being held.

For the Victory Council, that means enjoying the festive floor sessions from the "Road to Victory Suite." For members of another tier of his supporters, the "Founding Partners," there is "The Green Room."

For other top donors, also behind velvet curtains, is the private retreat that the Romney campaign is calling "The Lounge." Top donors receive a special red credential tag to enter, and can lounge on big leather chairs inside. Two full bars are serving beverages for GOP leadership events that occur at all hours.

Charles R. Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, said the environment is conducive to the networking that has become the lifeblood of national political conventions.

"The conventions are a chance for their donors to hobnob directly with the lawmakers, Congress and obviously the Presidential candidates and the future cabinet, perhaps, of the United States," Lewis said. "It is a schmooze fest involving the wealthiest interests in the United States that want to be close to power."

On Thursday, the ultimate schmoozing will occur at the Victory Council lunch, held at an area resort. There the elite donors will have lunch with Romney, his Vice Presidential pick, Paul Ryan, Ann Romney, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. After lunch, they will be given the chance to pose for photos with Ryan.

Busses will then shuttle the special group to the Convention, where they will have a reception with Gov. McDonnell and "the Romney sons." All that will build to the convention's most anticipated moment. From the Road to Victory Suite, they will watch Romney accept his party's nomination.

And when they depart Tampa at the week's end, they will carry gifts of appreciation, including such high-end mementos as brass clocks for their mantels and wooden captain's chairs with personalized brass plaques imprinted with Mitt Romney's signature.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan Gets Hometown Send Off at His Old High School

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(JANESVILLE, Wis.) -- Paul Ryan had an emotional homecoming in Wisconsin Monday at a rally meant to send him off to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

He hopped on the stage, after an introduction by his older brother Tobin, saying, “Hello Janesville it’s good to be home!”

Ryan then stood on the stage, taking in the about 2,000 people at the Joseph A. Craig High School that came to see the hometown boy at his alma mater.

“You know I think I recognize just about every face in this room,” he said.

Ryan’s voice cracked when he talked about the community and his commitment to it. 

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He then told his own family story, one that could very well be on display this week at the Republican National Convention, where he will be formally added to the Republican presidential ticket as Mitt Romney‘s running mate.

“Our family story is not different than most Americans’ family stories,” Ryan said.  “You know back in the 1850s the potatoes stopped growing in Ireland so my great-great-grandfather with the shirt on his back made his way to Boston, worked his way on the railroads to get enough money to buy a farm and that brought him to the outskirts of Janesville, Wis., and he looked around and it was summertime and he said this looks just like Ireland.  Then came winter and he said 'oh crap' but they made a go of it and lots of immigrants came in those years to this town.”

The concept of the “American idea” is something likely to reappear in Ryan’s speech to the GOP convention in Tampa on Wednesday, according to an aide.

“Friends, family, this is a defining moment for our country,” Ryan said.  “This is not an ordinary election because it’s not an ordinary time, we have a big choice to make.  We’re not just picking the next president for a few years, we are picking the pathway for America for a generation.  And what Mitt Romney and I pledge is that you get to choose what kind of country do we want to have, what kind of people do we want to be.”

“It comes down to that because the stakes of this election are so high,” he continued.  “We’ve seen what the president has offered.  We have seen the path he has placed us on.  It’s a nation in debt, it’s a nation in doubt, it’s a nation in decline.  Or we can choose a better path, reapply those founding principles, reclaim the American idea, get people back to work and get the American idea of prosperity and opportunity in society back on track and that is exactly what we are going to do.”

Ryan also spoke about the concept, which he often does on the campaign trail, when he said “America is not just a piece of geography, it’s an idea.  You know it’s the only country founded on an idea and that idea is precious.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney's Sons: 'None of Us Expected We'd Be Here'

Ida Mae Astute/ABC(TAMPA, Fla.) -- It will be a family reunion of sorts when Mitt Romney accepts the Republican Party's nomination for president on Thursday.

His second, third and even fourth cousins have descended on Tampa, Fla., to be part of a special moment for the Romney family.  It is a moment even Romney's sons never thought they would see.

"None of us expected we'd be here," Josh Romney, 37, told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer when she interviewed all five of Romney's sons on Monday.  "It'll be a big moment for us to watch our dad go up there and accept the nomination.  It's pretty exciting for us."

The brothers arrived in Tampa before their parents, who have been in Boston preparing their speeches.  Ann Romney will address the convention on Tuesday, her husband on Thursday.

"I talked to my dad and it's driving him crazy that we're all here right now and all together and he's up in Boston today working on the speech," Josh Romney said.  "He and my mom are going crazy.  They want to come down and hang out with us ... but they've got a lot of work to be doing."

Romney's sons -- all married, with children -- say their 65-year-old father is no different in their eyes, even with all the pageantry and grandeur surrounding him.

"He's still just dad to us," Tagg Romney, 42 and the oldest, said.  "So we'll enjoy the moment. ... It's a fun thing to go through as a family."

The jokes started almost immediately after Romney selected Rep. Paul Ryan, 42, as his vice presidential running mate that the Wisconsin congressman is Romney's sixth son.

"He's got my dad's hair. ... He's got the good hair," Josh Romney of Salt Lake City, said, laughing.

Tagg Romney, who lives in Belmont, Mass., said, "My dad ended up picking the person he thought would be the best to step in should something happen to him and someone who he thought would be able to pick up the mantra of the Republican Party eight years from now."

The "sixth son" also has the "classic" look that has come to define Romney and his family.

Romney's sons describe their father's style as "vintage" and "conservative."

The brothers' own fashion choices have been the target of a few late-night jokes because of their propensity to wear khakis.  They say the jokes have been "hilarious" and it has all been in good fun.

"No one's wearing khakis anymore, you can see that they're gone," Matt Romney, 40, of San Diego, said with a smile.

None of the Romney sons was wearing khakis for Monday's interview.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Republican Convention First Day Ends Lightning Fast as Storm Swirls

Win McNamee/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- What was to be an opening day of pomp and partying stretching into the night at the Republican National Convention instead lasted all of one minute, as the GOP put on hold its plans to nominate Mitt Romney while the Gulf Coast hunkers down in preparation for Tropical Storm Isaac.

At 2 p.m. ET, party chairman Reince Priebus announced the convention "in session and called to order." He declared the convention in recess moments later with the pounding of a gavel.

But Priebus still observed a moment of silence to recognize the first responders expected to deal with the effects of the storm churning its way toward New Orleans.

Many delegates were on the floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, but the seats of the huge arena were all but empty.

Priebus also pointed out a special clock that will monitor increases to the national debt during the meeting though Thursday.

Isaac, which is expected to reach hurricane force winds in the next 24 to 48 hours, will now mostly avoid Tampa. But its dark clouds loom over the convention, nevertheless. Priebus and others in the coming days will strike a balance between respectfully monitoring the storm, and ebulliently celebrating their new nominee.

This year's convention was to be a carefully scripted affair, tightly packing in speeches by many of the party's boldest names.

By losing a day of events because of travel delays and bigger fears that the storm would hit Tampa directly, many speakers were rescheduled or simply canceled.

Tuesday's schedule includes the roll call of state delegates' pledging their support for Romney as the nominee, as well as some of the party's fastest-rising stars, many of them long endorsers of Mitt Romney, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

The headliner Tuesday is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, once considered a potential running mate for Romney. Ann Romney, who was set to speak Monday, will also speak Tuesday.

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the convention will be a veritable sideshow of GOP presidential also-rans.

Unbowed by the weather and by his losing presidential campaign, supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul came out in droves to hear him speak Sunday in Tampa, after he was nixed from speaking at the convention. Other one-time candidates -- Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann -- are also expected to hold events on the convention sidelines.

Democrats also have set up outside the convention, hunkering down in a "war room" to respond in real time to comments made during the event.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Postpones Start of Republican National Convention Due to Hurricane Isaac Threat

NOAA via Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) — Republicans have cut short their national convention by one day due to the looming threat of a severe storm that is about to pound the state of Florida, party officials announced Saturday.

Less than 48 hours before the Republican National Convention was set to begin, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that the possibility of “severe transportation difficulties due to sustained wind and rain” brought by Tropical Storm Isaac, which meteorologists predict will become a hurricane by Monday, forced convention planners to scrap Monday’s scheduled activities.

“Due to the severe weather reports for the Tampa Bay area, the Republican National Convention will convene on Monday August 27th and immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, August 28th, exact time to follow,” Priebus said in a statement announcing the postponement. “Our first priority is ensuring the safety of delegates, alternates, guests, members of the media attending the Republican National Convention and citizens of the Tampa Bay area.”

Instead, party officials said Monday’s speaking lineup would be squeezed into the remaining three days of the convention and that they would be releasing more details about the revised schedule as early as Sunday.

Monday’s RNC program was to include the roll call vote of delegates officially nominating Mitt Romney as the party’s presidential nominee. The nomination is now likely to take place on Tuesday, according to Romney strategist Russ Schriefer, who briefed reporters on a conference call today.

“We expect the roll call will just take place on Tuesday,” Schriefer said. “It will take place right around the same time that it was going to take place on Monday, really with very little change.”

On the same call, Priebus emphasized that the convention would go on.

“This is a Monday issue,” he said, noting that he knew of no state delegations that had cancelled plans to travel to Tampa for the week.

“The safety of those in Isaac’s path is of the utmost importance,” Romney tweeted after the announcement was made on this evening. “I applaud those in Tampa making appropriate schedule changes.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, said that he had briefed Romney “on the storm and possible impact to the state” earlier in the day.

“I have made Governor Romney and RNC officials aware of the resources our state can provide in the chance Tampa is affected,” Scott said in a statement. The governor also announced that he was cancelling all of his scheduled convention-related activities on Sunday and Monday. He was originally scheduled to speak on Monday night.

As convention officials were changing course today, Tropical Storm Isaac was heading north toward Miami. It is expected to strengthen to a hurricane and make landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday evening, and then move westward into the Gulf of Mexico, making landfall near Panama City Beach on Tuesday. The storm is currently forecast to pass about 200 miles west of Tampa on Monday night and early Tuesday, but the storm’s wind field is large, meaning that Tampa is still expected to feel its affects, with wind gusts of up to 50 mph expected in the area.

Hillsborough County— the county where Tampa is located—has declared a state of emergency, as has the state of Florida. The Tampa Bay Times Forum, the site of the convention, is located on the water — a vulnerable position in a storm of Isaac’s magnitude.

The first day of the convention was originally designed as an opportunity to showcase what Schriefer called the “failures of the Obama administration over the past four years.” The night was to include testimonials from “real people affected by the Obama economy.” The goal of that first night, Schriefer said, was to “lay down the predicate and make the case of why President Obama has failed.”

In addition to the roll call votes nominating Romney for president and Paul Ryan for vice president, Monday’s speaking schedule was set to include a handful of party luminaries with official roles in the convention process: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, House Speaker John Boehner, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, among others.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Bracing for Perfect Storm of Problems in Tampa

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If Republicans think they're going to have a calm week nominating Mitt Romney for president in Tampa, Fla., they might have another thing coming.

Or, actually, a number of other things to watch out for.

Security will be tight around the convention hall as officials brace for demonstrations by the Occupy Wall Street movement and the New Black Panthers.

There were reports Tuesday of suspicious items found on the roof of a Tampa building, fueling a bit more anxiety, but police don't appear to be too worried as fences and road closures around the convention site should ease concerns.

A bit more problematic is Tropical Storm Isaac, now brewing in the eastern Caribbean.  According to the National Hurricane Center, Isaac could gain strength as it passes over the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico and conceivably be on a path toward Tampa as the party gets started next Monday.

And then, there's Hurricane Joe, as in Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States.  He plans to wreak a little havoc of his own with appearances in Tampa on Monday and Tuesday that could steal some thunder from the GOP.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Christine O’Donnell to Stage Tea Party vs. Occupy Debate in Tampa

Win McNamee/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Christine O’Donnell is looking to make some trouble in Tampa, Fla.

The former Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware will host a five-day event dubbed Troublemaker Fest at an IMAX theater two blocks from the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the Republican National Convention will be held.

Her event, slated for Aug. 26-30, will overlap with the Aug. 27-30 GOP convention.

While details have yet to be released and are still being hashed out, O’Donnell plans to host a debate between panelists from the Tea Party and Occupy movements, representing the opposite ends of America’s current political spectrum.

O’Donnell made waves in the Republican Party and earned national headlines in 2010 for her victory in Delaware’s GOP Senate primary, when she defeated GOP Rep. Mike Castle, a nine-term House member who had been favored to win. O’Donnell lost to Democrat Chris Coons, who now serves as Delaware’s junior senator.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Donald Trump Hints At ‘Wild’ Role at Republican Convention

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump is keeping his Republican National Convention role a secret for now, but on Wednesday he hinted that whatever it is -- it’s going to be “pretty wild.”

The real estate and reality television mogul who has remained in the 2012 political mix even after declining to launch his own presidential bid last year said in a pair of interviews with Fox Business Network’s Don Imus and Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that he had been invited by the Republican Party to speak at the convention in Tampa, but that he may have even bigger plans in store.

“They’ve asked me to speak,” Trump told Imus. “I may do it, but I don’t think you can do both.  And you’ll understand when you see what I’m doing. So, it will be one or the other.”

Trump added, “I am doing something that I think is going to be I think really amazing. It’s going to be great.  And we’ll see what happens.  I mean, we’ll see how it’s received. But it will be pretty wild.  I think it will be potent.  We’ll see.”

It is likely that Trump’s “wild” appearance will take place on the opening day of the week-long convention that begins on Aug. 27. One day earlier he will be receiving the Statesman of the Year award from the Sarasota Republican Party.

Earlier this month an aide to Trump said he would play a “major role” at the convention where delegates will officially nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to the GOP presidential ticket.

In Wednesday’s interview, Trump described Romney’s decision to tap Ryan as his running mate as a “bold choice.”

“There’s a lot of revitalization going on right now in the Republican Party,” Trump said. “A lot of people are very happy about it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ron Paul’s Delegate Insurgency Ends in Nebraska

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ron Paul’s delegate insurgency has come to an end.

Supporters of the libertarian GOP presidential candidate fell short at the Nebraska GOP convention, where they had hoped to out-organize Mitt Romney’s delegates and push Paul over a critical threshold that would have ensured him an official presence and speaking slot at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August.

As the last state where Republicans will hold a convention in which delegates are up for grabs, Nebraska represented the last chance for Paul’s supporters.

Instead, Nebraska Republicans elected a slate of Mitt Romney delegates to represent the state in Tampa. Paul’s supporters won only two of Nebraska’s 35 national delegates, according to Laura Ebke, who leads the Nebraska chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus and who has led Paul supporters’ effort to win delegates in the state.

Along with delegates from Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, and Minnesota, Nebraska could have given Paul the support of a plurality of delegates in five states; according to Republican National Committee rules, Paul would have been officially eligible as a candidate for the nomination at the Tampa convention. Organizers would have been required to grant Paul’s faction up to 15 minutes for a nominating speech.

To some extent, the outcome had already been determined: The voting attendees of Nebraska’s state convention were selected in a two-party county-convention process that included registration on March 1 and voting events June 1-10.

Now, Paul is guaranteed nothing in Tampa, and will depend on the graces of Romney and convention organizers to include him in the proceedings in late August. In 2008, Paul was shut out of the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis and held his own event across town, as Republicans rallied around their new presidential nominee, John McCain.

Paul’s campaign has said it expects to bring as many as 500 supportive delegates to Tampa, so Paul’s presence there could be noticeable nonetheless. Paul is planning a rally in Tampa around the convention, and his supporters have organized the Ron Paul Festival, an independent event that will include live music.

The Nebraska convention marks the end of Paul’s insurgent, delegate-driven campaign, which saw his supporters out-organize mainstream Republicans and longtime local party participants at caucuses and conventions in a few states, sometimes leading to heated exchanges and physical confrontations with security or police.

Throughout the primary and caucus season, Paul supporters used technical knowledge of GOP procedures, posing parliamentary questions and attempting to wrest control of organized party meetings. On the whole, they were successful in some cases — but not enough to force their candidate into the GOP’s multi-day Tampa love-fest.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin PAC Reserves Space Near RNC Site

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It looks like Sarah Palin is planning to attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., this August -- or is at least planning to be in the general vicinity.

Financial disclosures from Palin’s political action committee, Sarah PAC, show a $4,500 deposit has been placed at the Channelside Bay Mall in downtown Tampa -- walking distance from the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention.

The PAC lists the purpose of the expenditure as a “deposit for space.”  Whether Palin will have any formal role at the convention remains unknown, but the purchase would suggest that Palin at least plans to peripherally attend the RNC.

The Republican National Committee did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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