, Florida
St. Pete Times Forum
August 27th - 30th 2012

Presidential Nominee:
Mitt Romney of Massachusetts
Vice Presidential Nominee:
Paul Ryan of Wisconsin
Held under the theme “A Better Future”, the Republican National Convention of 2012 took place in Tampa, Florida, at the Tampa Bay Times Forum (now known as the Amalie Arena). Reports state that Tampa beat out Salt Lake City, Utah and Phoenix, Arizona in the judgment of the Republican National Committee for the honor of hosting the Convention. The venue is a sports arena that plays home to the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team and the Tampa Bay Storm football team, and has a capacity of approximately 20,000 people. The Convention commenced as planned on Monday, August 27, 2012, but immediately went into recess amid safety concerns, as Hurricane Isaac was threatening the state of Florida (including the city of Tampa) at the time. By Tuesday afternoon, the function resumed.

As early as the previous year, concerns were high in Tampa that the Occupy movement, then enjoying its heyday, would appear in numbers to protest the event. The American Civil Liberties Union warned the municipal government of Tampa to expect up to 10,000 demonstrators, and urged that they should be provided with places to sleep as well as potable water and bathroom access. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was unsympathetic to protestors' bedding needs, but authorities did provide drinking water and portable toilets, and protestors would later report that they were well-treated. Nevertheless, the nervousness of city authorities over the presence of Occupy reached stratospheric and at times amusing levels. At one point, the city officially banned the possession of puppets from the downtown area during the Convention, for fear that they could be used to conceal weapons; this angered local puppet makers, who complained that their civil liberties were being violated.

The Convention drew a number of important Republican speakers, including Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, and Marco Rubio. Ann Romney also spoke, as did her husband Mitt – the latter of which would go on to become the Republican nominee. Thursday, August 30 saw the appearance of planned “surprise” speaker Clint Eastwood, the famous (and prominent Republican) actor best known for his wild west action films. His speech drew controversy due to his decision to use his stage time to perform an improvised comedy routine, during which he spoke to an empty chair as if it seated Democratic President Barack Obama. Eastwood implied the President's dialogue, which was often profane, by reacting to it. The convention audience laughed and seemed to enjoy the show, but the performance was subject to both positive and negative reviews after the fact. Liberal political commentators, of course, excoriated Eastwood, calling his speech everything from bizarre to evidence of senility. Popular film critic Roger Ebert called the skit “sad and pathetic”. Others, however, were more receptive to the foray into comedy, including the likes of comedian Bob Newhart, who playfully, jokingly threatened to sue Eastwood for his use of the “empty chair” device that Newhart had popularized.

Ultimately, the Convention concluded with the nomination of Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan. They battled tenaciously in the general election campaign, but the Romney/Ryan ticket was defeated at the ballot box by Obama/Biden, the incumbent administration winning a second term.


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