By David Cruz
The tight security ring around the convention site in downtown Tampa has kept protesters far away from conventioneers, but a small group of Occupy protesters targeted this morning’s New Jersey delegation breakfast where former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman were scheduled to speak.
It is a little publicized fact of political conventions that most of the extra-curricular activities are sponsored by corporations. Their interest is in lobbying the lawmakers and other politicians who are gathered here, and this morning’s breakfast was no exception. But, right before Whitman was introduced — and, incidentally — after consuming the corporate-sponsored breakfast, a group of three Occupy protesters began chanting anti-corporate slogans.
The stunned delegates were silent at first, but then chanted the demonstrators down as they were escorted from the ballroom. We asked the protestors what it was about New Jersey that made them target this morning’s breakfast.
“We were happy to target any convention breakfast,” said Dana Rossing, who traveled to Florida from Minnesota for the convention. “This just happened to be the one where the New Jersey delegation was in.”
Back inside, Whitman and Sununu ignored the disruption. Their job was to rile up the Republicans in the room, and Sununu, especially was on his game.
“The biggest problem we have today is we have a president who’s never had to make a decision in his entire life. Never had to make a decision in his entire life until he became president of the United States,” he said mockingly. “[The presidency] is not the right office for on-the-job training.”
Afterword, before a small crowd of reporters, he continued: “This president is a fraud. This president never did anything in his life, and he’s done nothing as president. It’s the same as the ‘Emperor has no Clothes’ story. It’s my job to point out that he’s a fraud.”
Whitman, an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in California two years ago, was a tad less strident, choosing instead to target President Obama as indifferent to American manufacturing. She said countries like India, Singapore and Russia are in HP’s offices making the case for their countries.
“How often do you think the president of the United States has been in my office, making the case for the United States of America?” she asked. “Zero. And so we got to have somebody that wants to compete for America. We want someone who can lead and compete for our country, for the jobs here, for hi-tech manufacturing and that is what I know Mitt Romney is going to do.”
Demonstrators say they were successful in making their point, delegates say they were successful in shouting them down and in a week where politics is the main course, it seems, for both sides, it was a case of mission accomplished.