COLUMBIA — Jefferson City delegate Harry Otto says security at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., dwarfs that of the state and district conventions he has attended.
“Everyone that goes in is credentialed,” Otto said. “It’s like having a really tough usher escorting you to your seat. You can’t be in the wrong place.”
For Otto and fellow national convention first-timer Beverly Martin, an alternate delegate from Fulton, the convention was bustling with activity.
“There’s so much work to be done,” Martin said. “You get to go to these wonderful places and events they’ve organized for you.”
A one-day recess caused by what was then Tropical Storm Isaac compacted the schedule even more than usual. Otto said he was impressed with how efficiently organizers responded to the reshuffling of plans.
“It’s obvious they planned for this type of emergency,” Otto said. “Whoever laid this out with Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, deserves credit because they did a fantastic job. They danced to new music that they didn’t know was going to be played.”
National conventions are known for being home to serious business, but a more entertaining side of the convention could be seen in attendees’ attire.
Otto explained that delegates and other attendees sometimes wear odd gear to increase their chances of catching reporters’ attention. He said he saw a delegate in a Dr. Seuss hat, a Wisconsin delegate in a “cheesehead” hat and a group of Kansas delegates in Kansas City Chiefs jerseys.
“One delegate from Jeff County wore an Abraham Lincoln hat,” Otto said. “And he looks like Abraham Lincoln. He’s got the beard, he’s got the dress. If you saw him in a dark alley you would think he was Abe Lincoln.”
Otto said the Missouri delegation’s internal rules called for plain business attire. Some of them still drew attention by wearing stickers supporting U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, whose comments about rape led to multiple Republican leaders calling for him to withdraw from the race.
Martin said she wore an Akin sticker, and she sensed he had more support from the Republican delegates than he did from the party’s leadership.
“The first night we were here, people from all over the country showed unbelievable support," Martin said. "They thanked us for standing behind him. There is a support system in place for him if you were to judge by the reaction of some delegates from this convention."
Martin, who is a proponent of the Fair Tax Act, also said she enjoyed talking to delegates from across the country about the act. The act would abolish the Internal Revenue Service and replace the federal income tax with a 23 percent sales tax nationwide.
“I am surprised how many people know about the fair tax and support the fair tax,” Martin said. “I was just amazed at how many people knew about it and wanted more information. It was exciting.”
Martin said Tuesday night's speech by presidential candidate Mitt Romney's wife, Ann Romney, "was the highlight for me."
“I also enjoy hearing Nikki Haley and Jan Brewer and some of these other very powerful women. These women are amazing.”
Otto said he also is enjoying the convention and that the experience has been positive.
“It’s been a very pleasant and somewhat exciting event,” Otto said. “History is being made. People will talk about this for years. Maybe I can tell (my) grandchildren I was there.”
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.