D.A. Sharpe of Aurora had a front-row seat at last week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Sharpe represented Texas’ 12th Congressional District at the convention, the main purpose of which was to nominate presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the November election ballot. The gathering convened while Hurricane Isaac was bearing down on the Gulf of Mexico, and although the hurricane struck a glancing blow at Florida before going ashore at New Orleans, it was still a stormy start for the political season.
Texas had the second-largest delegation with 155 delegates. A total of 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternates attended the convention, representing all 50 states and several U.S. territories. The size of each delegation was determined by population and voter participation.
After a delayed start, the four-day agenda was condensed to three days. Having accomplished the required voting tasks on Tuesday, the rest of the time was focused on political themes as the delegates were treat to a parade of Republican stars, elected and former elected officials with messages to motivate the party faithful..
The nominations for president and vice-president were foregone conclusions based on the results of state primary elections and conventions. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential choice, Congressman Paul Ryan, needed 1,143 delegates out of the 2,286 to win the nominations. They received 2,051 votes.
Each day had a program theme to follow, Sharpe said, with Monday’s and Tuesday’s themes “We Can Do Better” and “We Built It.” The latter theme hammered on recent public remarks of President Obama saying that small business owners did not build their business, but rather the government and society around them allowed them to grow. Testimonies were mostly from people of various ethnic, immigration or economic backgrounds who had built successful lives through their own labor.
Wednesday’s theme was “We Can Change It” while on Thursday, the theme was “We Believe In America.” Altogether, about 140 speakers or videos were presented. Besides the expected political leaders, there were people from the working life and the entertainment industry.
One of Sharpe’s favorites was Janine Turner, an actress who was raised in Fort Worth and became famous in the TV series Northern “Exposure” in the early 1990s. Turner is now a radio talk show hostess on KLIF 570.
“During some of my years as administrator at Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Janine was a church member whose path happily crossed mine from time to time,” Sharpe said.
Sharpe also enjoyed perhaps the biggest name on the program, actor/director Clint Eastwood who spoke on the last night of the convention. The “empty chair” representing President Obama, to which he addressed comments and questions, was “a bit undignified” but was well-received by the convention crowd.
“I know some comments were made,” he said, “but those were from folks not fully appreciating the entertainment value of this exceptionally creative message.”
In many respects, he said, Eastwood’s speech was a “side-splitter of laughter.”
Sharpe and Eastwood are sixth cousins, he said, three times removed.
“We both are directly descended from Plymouth Colony Gov. William Bradford, the Mayflower passenger in 1620 who is credited with much of the composition of the Mayflower Compact, the first political document in the New World that envisioned a government by the people and for the people under God,” he said.
Romney closed out the convention Thursday night with a message that brought the delegates to their feet. The traditional balloon release was “thrilling,” he said, amidst flashing lights and festive music.
“It was a great way to conclude a political convention with inspired delegates ready to roll up their sleeves and to get the vote out,” Sharpe said.