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Florida GOP Delegation Works, and Parties, Through the Storm

August 28, 2012 | WMFE - The Republican National Convention is getting underway in Tampa after being delayed for a day by Tropical Storm Isaac. But even as events were cancelled Monday because of the weather, Florida's Republican delegation kept members busy and tried to make the best of the situation

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The Florida delegation started the party Sunday night with a convention kickoff at Tropicana Field. Then, buses brought them back to their hotel for another reception. 
Steve Zieman from Gulf Breeze in the Panhandle drank a beer and smiled after getting an update on Isaac. He almost didn’t make it.

“I had to decide whether or not the storm was really going to go on that course.” Zieman said. “But I wanted to support America.”

The delegates partied into the night and still made it to an 8 a.m. breakfast with the South Carolina delegation, hosted by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“You are our compatriots in the battle to save America and neither rain, nor wind nor tropical storm nor hurricane will prevent a Romney win in Florida and South Carolina.”

Both delegations were assigned to the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Wesley Chapel, almost an hour away from the convention floor in downtown Tampa.

Chairman Chad Conley of the South Carolina Republican Party alluded to the punishment they were handed when both states moved up their presidential primaries.

“We are proud to be at Innisbrook in primary purgatory with our brothers and sisters from Florida.”  Conley said.

It was a pleasant purgatory. The resort features lush green golf courses outside, and opulent chandeliers and other décor inside.

At breakfast, delegates heard from Governor Rick Scott about the latest on Isaac.

Then, incoming house speaker Will Weatherford talked about the news of the day: Former Republican-turned-independent Governor Charlie Crist had not only endorsed president Obama, he had agreed to speak at the Democratic National Convention. :

“Speaking of winds blowing and people shifting positions,” Representative Weatherford said. “The Florida Republican Party had a former member by the name of Charlie Crist who’s decided not to be a part of our party anymore and I just wanted to state something out. I knew that hugs could be powerful but I really just had no idea until yesterday. So for those of you who don’t understand that, you will.”

After breakfast, the Florida delegates posed for a group picture, then had some free time.

John Giotis of Clearwater Beach welcomed the slower pace.

“There is still some work that we have to get done, work that the delegates need to do, votes that need to take place.” Giotis said. “We’ll do it and just get ready for the next couple of days.”

A lunch honoring World War Two veterans went on as planned but it was moved from The Coliseum in St. Petersburg back to the delegates’ hotel because of weather.

The big disappointment was the cancellation of a late night trip to Busch Gardens. Delegates were supposed to ride roller coasters and visit big cats.

Rep. Kelli Stargel is a delegate from Lakeland.

“I am sad about that.” Stargel said. “I love Busch Gardens. They always do a wonderful job, so that’s unfortunate. But you know what, the priorities are right.”

On Tuesday, the convention business, and pleasure, continue.

The Florida delegates are scheduled to have a luncheon at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and enjoy a private concert with country music star Trace Adkins.


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