With over 700 delegates, alternates, guests, staff, and elected officials in attendance – Texas made a loud and visible impact at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida!
For Texas Republicans who watched at home on TV or followed the conversation from their local delegates and social media, we are providing a recap of daily events as well as a discussion of the important business that delegates voted upon during the convention.
Pre-Convention Week Activities
The Republican National Convention Committees met and conducted the majority of their business in the week preceding the National Convention. There are four convention committees prescribed under Rule 41 of the Rules of the national Republican Party, and Texas sent two representatives to serve on each:
– Committee on Resolutions (David Barton & Denise McNamara)
– Committee on Credentials (Eric Opiela & Mandy Tschoepe)
– Committee on Rules and Order of Business (Butch Davis & Melinda Fredricks)
– Committee on Permanent Organization (Tom Washington & Borah Van Dormolen)
The Committee on Resolutions (more commonly known as the Platform Committee) began their work on Monday, August 20th and the finalized document was distributed to the states' delegation contacts by Saturday morning in its final form. To download a PDF copy of the 2012 Republican National Platform, please use this link.
The Committee on Rules and Order of Business convened on Friday, August 24th. A proposal was put forth by D.C. delegate Ben Ginsburg that sought to strip the power of the grassroots of their ability to select national convention delegates and usurp state GOP sovereignty by allowing Presidential candidates to de-certify delegates that were duly elected by the Texas State Convention. To make matters worse, he also proposed allowing the RNC to change the rules adopted by the National Convention by a two-thirds vote in between National Conventions without any limitation on their ability to do so. These rules were clearly designed to allow national GOP leadership to attempt to control state functions, and if allowed to stand, the end result would be a stripping of the power of grassroots activists.
Texas Rules Committee members Butch Davis and Melinda Fredricks, along with other key grassroots conservative leaders such as Morton Blackwell of Virginia, strenuously objected to this power grab by national leadership. In consultation with State Chairman Steve Munisteri, they helped organize a mini-revolt. Butch Davis gave an impassioned speech against the proposed rules changes in which he stated "there are some principles worth dying on the hill for and this is one." As a result of Melinda and Butch's efforts, they were able to secure enough signatures for a minority report to oppose the new rule change. In addition, Chairman Munisteri asked for a vote of the Texas delegation to authorize a request for a roll call, which the RNC Rules require a majority of six states to accomplish. The end result of these actions was that the RNC Rules Committee backed down and deleted the offensive language regarding decertifying state delegates. Moreover, Vice-Chairwoman Melinda Fredricks was able to push through an amendment to the rules, raising the bar required to change the rules in the future from two-thirds to 75 percent. The 75 percent requirement does not guarantee that there will not be another attempt to diminish the power of grassroots activists in the future, but it will make it more difficult for such efforts to succeed.
The Committee on Credentials also convened on Friday, August 24th. There are several states that had contentious caucuses and while the committee ultimately made decisions as to which delegates should be seated or not, it is clear that the processes in some of the other states was not perfect, and there is still some controversy as to which delegates should or should not have been seated in some other states.
The Committee on Permanent Organization met for their work at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Monday, August 27th and quickly concluded their work that same day.
By Sunday afternoon the majority of the Texas delegation had arrived at the Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Florida – some 28 miles north of downtown Tampa and the convention site. RPT staff began check-in and registration of the delegates and alternates that morning and the distribution of delegate credentials, attire and various "swag" provided by sponsors of the convention. We would particularly like to recognize and thank Holly Frost, Kathaleen Wall and Texas Memory Systems for providing the delegation's signature cowboy hats for the entire delegation and guests. Also, we would like to thank State Senator Dan Patrick for providing the blue oxford delegation shirts and Kay and Norman Adams of Adams Insurance for providing the Texas flag shirts. All of these sponsors directly purchased and provided to the delegates. The attire definitely made our delegation stand out!
On Sunday afternoon, the delegation met in the Royal Palm Ballroom for an update on the revised schedule provided by the RNC in preparation for Hurricane Isaac. It was at this time that the delegates learned that Monday's convention schedule had been cancelled and that all Monday events were being shifted to Tuesday for a full day of activity on that day. After a welcome and introductions by Chairman Steve Munisteri, the delegation heard remarks from U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and gave her a standing ovation for her service to the Lone Star State.
Senator Hutchison thanked the delegates for their willingness to serve Texas and the Republican Party by making the long trip at their own expense, and spoke about having attended many national conventions during her decades of service to Texas. She urged the delegation to work hard for Republican victory this November and to go out door to door and person to person to take back this country.
Following this delegation briefing, many of the delegates and their guests boarded buses to the official Tampa Bay Host Committee welcome party which was held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg with a number of live musical acts and performances.
Even though the hurricane forced the cancellation of the day's main convention session in downtown Tampa, the Texas delegation still participated in a full briefing and meeting on Monday morning at Saddlebrook Resort. Special guests on Monday morning included U.S. Senator John Cornyn and Texas Senate nominee Ted Cruz. Senator Cornyn spoke at length about the work he is accomplishing with the NRSC to win more Republican Senate seats across the country and ensure that Mitt Romney will not have to deal with Harry Reid as the majority leader in 2013! Ted Cruz addressed the delegation with a message of fiscal conservatism, pointing out the success of Texas in attracting both jobs and families to our state through a strong record of economic leadership.
The delegates then had the rest of the day for free time, although several did travel by private vehicle down to the convention center where Chairman Reince Priebus led a very short "kickoff" for the convention where it was gaveled into order and immediately recessed until Tuesday – a process which took less than 1 minute. Also that afternoon, the delegates were treated to a special presentation of the film "2016" at Saddlebrook Resort. The costs for showing the film were generously provided by the Texas Federation of Republican Women and Brad Bailey of the Texas Immigration Solution. That evening, AT&T graciously provided transportation to and from an event they sponsored for the Texas delegation in downtown Tampa at Jackson's. The delegation was treated to live music and refreshments with a beautiful view of the bay.
Tuesday proved to be the longest day of the week for the delegation, but it kicked off in grand style at the delegation briefing where Texans heard from Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. Governor Dewhurst made it a point to come to the convention to be present during Senate nominee Ted Cruz's speech to show his support, and specifically told the Texas delegation that he is not only endorsing Ted Cruz for the U.S. Senate but will also be available to assist and help to ensure his election. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples also addressed the delegates to speak about his enthusiasm for the November elections and urge Texans to stay engaged in the fight to reclaim the White House.
Up next was a special appearance by Tagg Romney, the eldest son of Mitt Romney. Tagg shared some personal stories with the delegation about growing up in the Romney family and it was a real treat to hear from such a tremendous surrogate speaker from our next President! To round out the event, the delegation was also joined by national pollster and Fox News contributor Frank Luntz who led an informative and sometimes raucous discussion on the current electoral environment. Much to his self-professed delight, Luntz was given a Texas cowboy hat and Texas flag shirt by members of the delegation! In turn, he also brought a gift to the Texas GOP – an original painting of Ronald Reagan, which had been painted only hours before by nationally renowned artist Steve Penley.
After the extended morning briefing, the Texas delegation made their way to the GOP Express buses for the long ride to the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the first full day of the National Convention. Tuesday contained two official sessions – in the first session, delegates heard reports from the permanent committees and the roll call of the states for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential nomination. To watch Chairman Steve Munisteri's roll call announcement of the Texas delegation vote – please click this video link.
One of the speakers on Tuesday afternoon's session was Texas' own Congressman Francisco "Quico" Canseco from the 23rd Congressional District. The full video of his remarks can be viewed here.
In the evening session, delegates reconvened for a full four hours of speeches from notable Republican leaders, and the Texas delegation cheered loudly for our Senate nominee Ted Cruz. The full video of Cruz's remarks can be viewed here.
It was a bleary Wednesday morning for the Texas delegation after transportation difficulties on the bus system provided by the RNC caused most of the attendees to be stuck on coach buses until very late in the night. Many delegates did not return back to the Saddlebrook Resort until 2:30am or later after Tuesday evening's session. Still, several hundred Texans cheerfully made it to the delegation briefing to hear from a strong list of dynamic speakers.
Texas Comptroller Susan Combs was the first to address the delegation and was immediately followed by Attorney General Greg Abbott, who also took time to give the delegation an update on the decision by the three-judge federal panel in Washington, D.C. regarding Texas redistricting. After General Abbott spoke, Chairman Munisteri introduced former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum who urged the delegates to work towards electing Governor Romney to the White House this November and thanked Texans for continually making him feel welcome in the Lone Star State – a place where his daughter now attends school in the DFW metroplex. The last speaker for the briefing was RPT Deputy Finance Chairman George P. Bush, who was also attending the convention as an alternate at-large delegate. Mr. Bush indicated that he was anxious to get to work helping to build the Texas GOP by not only raising funds, but helping in outreach to Hispanic voters as he is of Hispanic descent.
The delegation had the afternoon free for personal activities and relaxation, which was sorely needed after the late night travel adventures the previous evening. Before boarding the buses back to the Convention in the late afternoon, the delegation gathered together for an official delegates photo and an official alternates photo.
Wednesday evening's session featured a special video tribute to Texas Congressman Ron Paul to mark his long career of service in the House of Representatives. Also speaking that evening was U.S. Senator Rand Paul, the son of Congressman Paul and a long-time resident of Texas. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered an electric speech to the convention, and RPT State Convention Keynote and Vice-Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan closed out the evening with a fantastic address to the country in his acceptance of the nomination.
Transportation worked much more smoothly on Wednesday night, so delegates had a full night's sleep in preparation for the big day on Thursday. The morning delegation briefing was a full breakfast, sponsored by Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan in honor of Texas Governor Rick Perry, and turnout was packed!
The breakfast's first speaker was U.S. Congressman and Chairman of the House Republican Conference, Jeb Hensarling, who thanked Chairman Munisteri for his longtime friendship going back to the 1970's when they worked together on conservative causes during their college days. Congressman Hensarling urged the Texas delegation to be vigilant in defending freedom in this year's election and thanked them for their participation in the convention. Next, Kemal Oksuz, representing the Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan, welcomed the delegates and introduced Governor Perry. Governor Perry gave an enthusiastic and impassioned speech advocating conservative principles and touting the Texas economic miracle. He applauded the work of the Texas delegation and thanked them for their activism and recieved a rousing ovation from the delegation. After Governor Perry concluded, Congressman Michael Burgess addressed the delegation as well as State Senator Dan Patrick, who received a large ovation from the delegation for his sponsorship of the blue oxford shirts that the delegates wore to the convention the previous day.
Also, the RPT would like to make a special thanks to the members of our Texas Congressional delegation who were supportive of our delegates and alternates by being in Tampa – Joe Barton, Kevin Brady, Michael Burgess, Francisco "Quico" Canseco, Michael Conaway, John Culberson, Blake Farenthold, Bill Flores, Louie Gohmert, Kay Granger, Jeb Hensarling, Michael McCaul, Randy Neugebauer, Ron Paul, Ted Poe, Pete Sessions and Lamar Smith. Many of the Congressional delegation members attended one of our morning briefings, the sponsor breakfast receptions or our sponsorship luncheon – we greatly appreciate their particpiation!
Once again, the delegates had a free afternoon for personal time and enjoyment before the 5:00pm buses arrived to transport over 700 Texans to the Times Forum for the last night of Convention. Before the convention session began, Chairman Munisteri and Governor Perry participated in a nationally-promoted Google+ hangout with delegation members Angie Flores Granado and Anne Mazone. The Chairman and the Governor gave an insider analysis of the excitement of the convention, a quick preview of Governor Romney's speech and the delegates gave their viewpoints on the work being accomplished by the Texas delegation during the week. The entire video of the event is available by visiting this link.
Thursday night truly lived up to expectations and was a very exciting evening! Numerous Republican national leaders and personalities mingled with the delegation on the floor to have their pictures taken with the most visible and energetic delegation in the building. Delegates were treated to fantastic speeches from Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush, stirring live musical performances, and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was exceptional in his remarks introducing Governor Mitt Romney. Throughout his acceptance speech, the Texas delegation members were constantly on their feet to applaud and respond, and the balloon drop served to cap a thrilling end to the events of the week's activity. Afterwards, RPT staff secured the precious TEXAS floor sign from its post for transport back to Austin, where Chairman Munisteri plans to soon announce an auction for this historic souveneir. Literally hundreds of people from all states made their way over to the Texas delegation seating to have their picture made with Texas delegates, with our sign, and to congratulate our state on their unified presence.