Even as events were cancelled because of the weather, Florida’s delegates to the Republican National Convention managed to stay busy Monday.
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,” Putnam said.
Both delegations were assigned to the Innisbrook Golf Resort almost an hour away from 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. He told his fellow breakfast attendees, “We are proud to be at Innisbrook in primary purgatory with our brothers and sisters from Florida.”
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 Tropical Storm 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, the Florida Republican party had a former member of the Republican party by the name of Charlie Crist, who’s decided not to be a part of our party anymore,” said Weatherford. “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.
“But there is still some work that we have to get done, work that the delegates need to do, votes that need to take place. We’ll do it and just get ready for the next couple of days,” Giotis said.
A lunch honoring World War 2 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 from Lakeland said, “I am sad about that. 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 lunch at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and enjoy a private concert with country star Trace Adkins.