This is a live video stream from the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Thousands of delegates from across the country are in Tampa, Fla., this week for the National Republican Convention, including a handful from Buncombe County. They'll be there through Aug. 30, representing their party and participating in a variety of activities, including the official nomination of Mitt Romney as their candidate for president.
Western North Carolina will also be represented at the convention by 11th Congressional District Republican candidate Mark Meadows. The Highlands developer is the first congressional candidate from the region to be invited to speak at a national party convention in recent memory. He's one of only 10 congressional candidates in the country scheduled to speak at the gathering.
After organizers delayed the convention for a day due to Tropical Storm Isaac, Meadows is scheduled to speak at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 28. His address will be broadcast on the live video stream in this post, as well as on C-SPAN. (UPDATE: See his full remarks below).
Meadows is running against Democrat Hayden Rogers to represent the 11th District, which includes much of Buncombe County but not much of the city of Asheville.
Meanwhile, some of the local delegates in Tampa will be sharing dispatches from their experience at the convention with Xpress.
We'll keep this post updated over the next few days with their thoughts as they come in.
Gary Shoemaker reports:
Today, the RNC opened and closed the convention because of a lack of a quorum. There were only about 100 people present. No surprise in this, it was announced this weekend that they were not going to have a Monday convention session because of the uncertainty of the weather and possible flooding.
It was raining several times today and slightly windy. When tropical storm Isaac got to Tampa area, it took a north-west turn and headed straight for New Orleans. It is expected to be reclassified as a hurricane by the time it arrives in the northern Gulf.
Betty Jackson says:
As you probably know, the convention opened and closed within 60 seconds yesterday, so that’s been pretty uneventful. I did, however, come to Tampa on Friday so I could be a part of the Ron Paul events. The Ron Paul “We Are the Future” Rally on Sunday was inspiring and energizing for those of us who would like to see the GOP move towards a much less domineering approach to the people.
Some of those highlights for me spoke to the need for vigilance regarding our freedoms – free speech, including Internet freedom is key to all of us who would like the continuance of the free flow of information without government censoring; and as always, the desperate need we have for sound monetary and foreign policy.
11th District Republican candidate Mark Meadows delivered the following remarks at the convention on Aug. 28:
You are here and I am here because we indeed do believe in America! We are at a crossroads; we have a choice to make.
We have a President who wants his party to make us all dependent on government. We need leaders who believe in the prosperity that the free market brings.
We have a President who tramples our first amendment right to religious liberty by requiring all taxpayers to fund abortions.
We need public servants who respect life and our religious freedom.
We have a President all-too-willing to lead from behind. We need a White House that will unflinchingly support our strongest ally, Israel.
We need a President who believes in America. We have a nation too precious to give up on. We have a history too glorious to be forgotten. We have a Constitution too noble to be rewritten. We have a God who reigns over the affairs of nations.
And we have a people who, once again, are ready to stand up as "We the People" and choose for themselves the direction of their beloved country. I'm Mark Meadows and I'm running for Congress. With Mitt Romney, we're ready to take our country back.
Watch him deliver the speech:
Video courtesy of the Buncombe County Republican Party
Gary Shoemaker sent the following email to Xpress at about 4 p.m., writing that the RNC is trying "to make eunuchs of future delegates":
The RNC, in committee, created a rule change that would castrate future grassroots delegates. The Minority Report, in opposition to the revised rule for 2016, was brought up for a vote of approval. This rule change takes away local power and gives it to the RNC Committee and the next presumptive presidential candidate.
This voice vote garnered what sounded like almost equal shouts for "Ayes and Nays. Those voting "Nay" consisted of groups such as supporters of Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Freedom Works and others, as well as some mainstream Republicans. We called for "a division", because "voice count" didn't work. We were asking to actually count the votes.
Then all hell broke lose. The National Republican Chairman, Rience Prebius, didn't want a compromise. Many of those who voted "Aye" in support of rejecting the Minority Report, seemed confused when they heard the opposition. Those who supported the RNC committee's new rules were meerly "rubber stamping" what was already decided .
The call for "Division" was chanted. "Division" was ignored, so various folks tried to use "point of order" to ask why they were ignored. Then the chants began "point of order", "point of order". The chanting went on for about 10 minutes. The chair was clearly annoyed and perplexed. The chairman of the NC GOP scolded me about my repeated attempts at calling "Divisions". I told Robin Hayes that I know that he understands Robert's Rules of Order and he knows what was going on was very wrong. He shook his head and gave me an angry look as he walked away.
This Minority Report is about protecting counties' and districts' right to choose how it selects and governs its own delegates. If the GOP proceeds with this debacle, it will have succeeded in disenfranchising its conservative grassroots. Castration of the grassroots is not the answer.
Gary Shoemaker sends his final dispatch from Tampa. The subject line in his email to Xpress: "3 days in the RNC Gulag"
Police are everywhere in Tampa. Most of the police have been brought in from other Florida cities, counties and other states. There is also a large number of National Guards here as well.
A portion of Tampa is walled in chain link fences. These fences barricade streets and sidewalks. Walking through these makes one feel like a cow being prodded and cajoled into to cattle-chutes. As you walk to and from the convention, police are giving orders to pedestrians. Some are polite and others are surely. The police are wearing military type gear. They are equipped with gas masks, tear gas, batons, automatic weapons, pistols and shotguns.
One area is set up for "free speech" set away from the traffic and crowds. The Occupy Wall Street crowd was present, but only in very small numbers. When I asked, I was told that there were only a few OWS people present. I guess they got the message that there is no free speech in Tampa this week.
Inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum there were hundreds of plain-clothes security guards on the convention floor, in the halls, and at the TSA guard gate. The convention was completely barricaded off from the rest of the city. The city streets outside of the encircled convention were teaming with police and guardsman. Everywhere that you looked downtown, there were police and military uniforms and unsmiling faces.
I caught a glimpse of a police state this week. Police paranoia reigns supreme here. I have to wonder if this is to be our future. I will leave tomorrow. I am ready to go home.
Sept. 1: Gary Shoemaker returns to the mountains and has a few more thoughts on the RNC:
The Election, Selection, Allocation and Binding of Delegates and Delegate Alternates.
I am posting this video because this convention interruption is very difficult to explain to anyone that wasn't there. This rule change emasculates future delegations. In other words, all future conventions will be a rubber stamp for the RNC and the presumptive presidential candidate.
This is a very short video. The calls for "Division" and "Point of Order" were called out and went on for at least 10 minutes. The chanting was very loud. They even put the next speaker on in the hopes that the chanting would stop. It did not.
The above was a source of irritation for grass roots factions such as, Ron Paul supporters, Santorum supporters, Freedom Works supporters and many others. Those at the convention that day had to represent at least half of the delegates. I think it is fair to say that this portion of the delegates were not thrilled to have Romney as the Republican presidential candidate.
I have been told that the RNC is going to re-look at Rule 16. The current rules have permitted a rigging in favor of Romney. Rule 16 will give Romney, if he is elected, even more power over delegates in 2016.
This is one of many RNC actions that has outraged the grassroots this year. I have heard calls for a grassroots takeover of the RNC and I have heard calls for abandoning the party until it stops playing games with the nominating process.
My favorite presidential candidate is Ron Paul. I like him because he is a man of peace, honesty and consistency. I don't see any of these qualities in Mitt Romney.
There was no talk of bringing our troops home and ending our occupations abroad. There was no talk of ending the Federal Reserve and the banking oligopoly. There was not talk of ending deficit spending or reducing the national debt. There was not talk of limiting government to its constitutional limits.
"Mitt Romney’s mean spirited National Convention, run by a team who has refined exclusion and pettiness to an art, will now rely more than ever on the socialism and failed economy of Barack Obama to get their man elected. The door of their campaign is shut for anyone else to come in. At the RNC there was no generosity in victory, no forgiveness, no open arms, no calls for unity. Only scowls. It is payback time. To an unlikely combination of evangelicals, homosexuals and other targeted groups, the pain of the Romney’s will soon be unleashed upon them.
Now, more than ever, the choice between Obama and Romney will be which one do you want to ruin your country?"