TAMPA, Fla. -- Blink, and you might have missed the official first day of the 2012 Republican National Convention.
In deference to the increasingly worrisome storm approaching the Gulf Coast, Republicans rearranged their quadrennial nominating convention, canceling the scheduled first day of events. For technical reasons, however, the convention needed an official beginning.
Thus, at precisely 2 p.m. EDT, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gaveled the session to order.
A moment later, he gaveled it closed. In between, he uttered three dry sentences, entirely belying the emotion of the event: “Ladies and gentlemen, by the authority contained in the rules adopted by the 2008 Republican National Convention, the Republican National Committee has directed that the 2012 Republican National Convention be held in Tampa, Fla., starting at 2 o’clock p.m. on the 27thday of August 2012,” said Priebus. “So it is my privilege to proclaim the 2012 Republican National Convention in session and called to order. The chair announces pursuant to Clause 12, Paren B, Paren 1 of Rule 1 of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 2012 Republican National Convention stands in recess subject to the call of the chair.”
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A clergyman then offered a prayer “as we gather for this uniquely American moment.”
The prayer was followed by a 90-second video of Mitt Romney speaking over inspirational music. He is set to accept his party’s nomination for president on Thursday.
“When generations of Americans looked up and saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time,” Romney said on the video, “one thing they knew beyond any doubt, and that is they were coming to a place where anything was possible, that in American their children would have a better life. I believe in that America. I believe you believe in that America.”
And that was it. When the video ended, the lights went up and the surprising number of delegates and alternates who showed up began to disperse.
Seasoned delegates took it all in stride.
It was sort of anti-climactic,” said former Ambassador John Price, a Utah delegate who has been to two previous conventions. He said he wished the first day’s events had not been canceled. “You know, rain or shine--it's like a baseball game."
Others were thrilled just to be in the Tampa arena.
“Our convention started in Milwaukee,” said Jennie Frederick, a Wisconsin alternate delegate who said she and others were greeted at the Tampa-St. Petersburg Airport by a barbershop quartet singing “God Bless America.”
“This is the place to be,” said her fellow Wisconsin delegate, Kathy Kiernan. “We’re just so proud to be here.”
Melanie Mason contributed to this report.
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