Security in downtown Tampa was as tight as one might expect with over 3,000 officers representing federal, state and local agencies, not to mention the secret service inside and outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum where the scene was being set for this week’s big show.
As the delegates checked in at the Serata Resort, it was clear at this point that New Jersey and its governor would be the center of attention. At a reception for the New Jersey delegation, Gov. Christie was greeted like the political rock star he’s become, beaming at the home crowd, and in a nod to Isaac, dusting off one of his famous one-liners “to get the hell off the beach” to anyone foolish enough to venture out during the storm.
NJ Today Correspondent David Cruz caught up with the governor and asked if he could turn New Jersey into a state that’s in play for Mitt Romney. Christie quickly dispelled that notion. “At the end of the day, Mitt Romney’s got to be the guy who turns states in his favor,” said the governor. “Everybody in New Jersey knows I support Gov. Romney. They’ve known that since last October and, in the end, the people of New Jersey are going to decide who they’re going to vote for.”
In what would have been the first day of the convention, conditions at the beach were not too bad except for a little bit of light rain. Officials say the New Jersey delegation will have the rest of the day to take full advantage in anticipation of tomorrow’s big day. According to Republican National Committeeman Bill Palatucci, people looking for other activities won’t be disappointed. “The bar will be open, there will be a big lunch spread provided but the work of the convention will be Monday afternoon will be switched over to Tuesday afternoon,” he said.
Chris Christie took up a lot of the oxygen in the room but if there was one person who rivaled him in the hearts of delegates, it might have been former Gov. Tom Kean who spent more than an hour posing for photos and greeting members of the delegation. He says Christie’s good for the party but great for New Jersey — something which Democrats should appreciate.
“When I gave the keynote speech, Bill Bradley and those other Democrats congratulated me,” recalled Kean. “Some of them actually helped me … that’s the way it should be. When somebody in the state gets this kind of recognition … this is good for the whole state and everybody ought to be behind him.”
Kean was also a featured speaker at this morning’s New Jersey’s delegation breakfast and he’s having as good a time as any ex-governor should have at a Republican National Convention.
David Cruz files this report from Tampa.