The first few days of the convention were a little rough given Hurricane Isaac which brought some wind and heavy downpours causing the Monday session to roll into Tuesday. As a result, the Tuesday session turned out to be a marathon session of speeches beginning at 1 p.m. and finishing after midnight. That being said, the hall still was very excited and anxious to get the event rolling and hear from a number of speakers. As a comparison, I was at the Republican convention four years ago and clearly this convention had a completely different feeling and energy.
The speeches were excellent and a lot of the issues were brought out early on Tuesday. Ann Romney brought the human touch to Governor Romney. I had the privilege of meeting Governor Romney at events during the summer and the picture painted of Governor Romney by others do not do justice to the personality of Governor Romney. He is very engaging, extraordinarily polite and is a very likable individual. Governor Christie, at the end of the night, made a great speech. His speech seemed to have the right ingredients of humor and substance and helped to ignite the crowd. Unfortunately, there was a transportation problem on Tuesday night causing many delegates from various states including Connecticut to be on a bus for over 2 1/2 hours and arriving at their hotel at 3:00 in the morning. I lack that patience and took a cab.
Wednesday's session started the buildup to Thursday's nomination. A lot of notable politicians came out and mingled in the crowd on the delegate floor including Governor Christie, former New York City Mayor Ruldolph Giuliani, Senator Orrin Hatch, Michele Bachman and former New York Governor George Pataki. All of the above and many more were very gracious in talking with the delegates.
Wednesday night definitely belonged to Condoleezza Rice. I do know not if it projected over the screen, but she talked with such emotion and passion and from the very deep part of her soul in expressing her love for this country and the need to change the direction this country is headed. Condelezza talked about the importance of the American dream and her ability to excel by the opportunities this country gave her to achieve the status of Secretary of State. With equal passion, she seemed extraordinarily concerned over the military issues facing this nation and the lack of trade agreements being negotiated. She emphasized that the combination of both will not be felt tomorrow, but in years to come and will take many years to reverse. Her passion on this issue expressed the critical nature of the problem. By far this speech, in my view, overshadowed any other speeches that night, including Governor Christie.
Paul Ryan took the stage at the end of the night. His speech was a good speech balanced with content and humor, but still a Vice Presidential speech. He certainly knows the budget, understands the issues, especially economic and he was able to connect with the audience. The speech was well received and certainly was a good lead in to Governor Romney's speech for the following day.
Surprise Thursday. Although it was not quite a surprise, as rumors leaked out the day before, Clint Eastwood was the surprise guest speaker of the night. I think he frankly had a number of surprises that night and Paul Ryan and his wife were fairly close to where I was sitting and they seemed a bit uncomfortable during some of his "speech."
On a personal note, Republicans and Democrats can disagree on policy, but in my view their needs to be respect for the office. And, I would suggest that Clint Eastwood alluding to an "imaginary" President Obama and talking crudely definitely flirts with that line of respect that we all need to hold for the presidential office. Although from time to time he did have some good one-liners, and I paraphrase, "that the people own the country, not the politicians," or like when he said, "and when someone does not do the job, we have to let them go." These few points I think were lost in what has to be described as a sort of rambling speech. Nevertheless, he is still Clint Eastwood and his signature "make my day" line caused excitement in the crowd.
When Senator Rubio took the podium, the hall really got quiet. And, his speech was superb. He talked about Governor Romney the business man, the father, the husband and the community leader. And, I think he encapsulated the perception, of those of us in the audience, of President Obama's policies by stating, "hope and change has become divide and conquer" and that the choice in this election is not which political party you feel allegiance to, but what kind of country you want America to be. He expressed and emphasized that the power belonged to the people and the person and that people are not trapped by the circumstances of their birth, but are free to follow their dreams. He then expressed how he emerged from a son of a bartender to his current position and he made his mother cry when he said, referring to his dad, "he stood behind the bar in the back of the room all those years, so one day I could stand behind a podium in front of the room." He tied this all into the fact that Governor Romney believes in America, and believes that everyone has an opportunity to succeed and it is the hopes and dreams of individuals who strive to make their life better, which is the fabric of America. And Governor Romney believes in those principles. This was just the warm up speech needed for Gov. Romney.
Governor Romney is not an emotional guy and he also has a hard time connecting with an audience in an emotional manner. I guess he is more of a fact guy who understands the problem and then solves the problem whether that is saving the Olympics or helping others. He doesn't talk about it or explain his actions or search for press releases to tell the world what he is doing or has done , he just does the job. Therefore, when put into the political position to talk emotionally about who he is and what he has done, doesn't seem natural. I guess he is a "doer" rather than a "talker," which is probably what we need at this time. One is never going to walk away from Governor Romney's speech with a sense of strong emotion, but they will walk away with a sense that he is in command of the issue he is talking about. That being said, I would have preferred a little more substance to the solution and a more detailed plan. However, he delivered what he had to deliver, absent the above criticism, and the crowd responded with each applause line.
Now, when the speech was done I did have one mission, and that was to take the Connecticut sign for our delegation home. Therefore, as the balloons dropped, I immediately went for the sign and after struggling with the sign for 10 or 15 minutes, we managed to remove the sign. I had to walk almost three quarters of a mile to get the sign into a car and get it back to the hotel. I was amazed on how heavy that sign was and also how out of shape I was. Anyway, I surrendered it to the State party, who now has possession of the sign.
In summary, it was a great experience one which I will remember for a long time. The atmosphere and camaraderie not only in the Connecticut delegation but also among the various delegates was a lot of fun. The opportunity to meet people from other states and talk about the issues and how they deal with the same problems we have in Connecticut was very interesting. Although this seemed like a big party, and it was, there was a lot more to the event. This was our democratic process taking place in real time. This is what America is, the democracy that people have died to preserve and people have volunteered to maintain. This unique process exemplifies the individual rights and liberties that make America, America.
Sen. Fasano is seeking re-election to a sixth term in the 34th State Senate district, which now includes Durham, as well as East Haven, North Haven and Wallingford.