2012 GOP National Convention - Journal Star News

2012 GOP National Convention

Updates from the Republican National Convention in Tampla, Fla. Use the chat feed at right to comment and see live tweets from Nebraskans at the convention.

  • Mark Fahleson: Issac and the NEGOP Invade Florida


    In life as well as politics, timing is everything.  As the Nebraska Republican Party National Convention delegation begins to arrive in Tampa, so is Tropical Storm Isaac.  Most of the national media is focusing on the storm and its potential impact on the convention.  As Chairman of the Nebraska delegation, I've participated on various conference calls to discuss the contingency plans in the event the storm worsens or directly hits Tampa.  One impact the storm has already had is on the convention agenda.  So as to avoid any potential problems, almost all of the convention's actual business (such as the roll call of the states to nominate Mitt Romney for President and Paul Ryan for Vice-President) has been moved to Monday.

    I've been in Tampa for the last week participating in RNC activities and serving on the RNC Committee on Contests, Vice-Chair of the RNC Credentials Committee and on the RNC Rules Committee.  Today I moved from the RNC hotel where I had been staying to our delegation hotel--the Alden Suites on St. Pete Beach.  Beachfront hotels are great . . . except when there's a tropical storm.


  • Fahleson: Check-in, Credentials and Cocktails



    Isaac is still not here--all reports are that it will hit the Tampa area around 2 a.m. Monday morning.   Because of the anticipated impact on transportation (example:  buses crossing the bridges into Tampa have a tendency to blow over in high winds--something we want to avoid) the Convention will convene tomorrow and immediately go in to recess until Tuesday. Now the 4-day schedule will be condensed into 3, but I'm confident we'll get the necessary work done to formally nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  

    Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a special reception sponsored by the Wisconsin and Mississippi GOP honoring Chairman Reince Priebus and Gov. Scott Walker. and former RNC Chair and Gov. Haley Barbour. Gov. Walker made it a point to tell me how much he likes Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and how he's looking forward to Wisconsin defeating the Huskers in Lincoln (I told him to not get his hopes up).  My wife Sara and 14 year-old daughter Abigail were able to join me for that event, which was on the 38th floor of a building in downtown Tampa and provided a nice view of the  convention hall and incoming weather.
     Our hotel
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 28, 2012 at 4:24 PM
     My unofficial credentials from the Convention.
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 28, 2012 at 4:24 PM
     Delegate check-in at the Nebraska hospitality suite
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 28, 2012 at 4:26 PM
     NEGOP Staffers Jessica Heineman, Raven Shirley and Andrew LaGrone cheerfully getting credentials ready for the incoming NEGOP delegates and alternate delegates.
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 28, 2012 at 6:29 PM
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    Most of our delegation is arriving today.  I'm hosting a hospitality room for the delegation, where they will receive their official credentials, host bags and enjoy an adult beverage or two while they wait.  

    Tonight we'll head off to the big welcome event at Tropicana Field, where the Tampa Bay Rays play.  Again, plenty of fun and revelry before we get started with our official business.

    Monday's schedule for our delegation has been altered due to the weather.  We're going forward with our breakfast on Monday morning, but instead of it being in a tent on the beach (which is being taken down as I write before Isaac hits), we'll be eating at a local restaurant, and we'll still have a lunch with the Iowa delegation in Tampa.  But tomorrow evening is now free with the postponement of official business, so we're treating it like a Nebraska "snow day."  We plan to gather to play board games and participate in good old-fashioned Nebraska fellowship.  With the New Jersey and California delegations staying in nearby properties, perhaps we can convince them to come out in the storm to join us.  Gov. Christie--are you up for a game of Scrabble?

  • Meet the blogger: Jessica Heineman


    Jessica Heineman is attending her first Republican National Convention. She is joining the delegation this year as an aide and will be assisting the delegation and Chairman Fahleson on special events, administration, and coordination. She is a resident of Fremont and a small business owner with her husband, Sam.
     Jessica Heineman
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 27, 2012 at 6:27 PM

  • Jessica:  Preparing for National Convention, Gusty Squalls, and Friendly Floridians

    Greetings from St. Pete's Beach! Our Nebraska team has had a busy weekend making preparations for the arrival of the Nebraska Delegates, Alternates, and Guests.  We are fortunate to be one of the states staying in St. Pete's Beach just outside of Tampa.  Waking up to a view of the ocean and having a cup of coffee in the warm sunshine of a Florida morning has been lovely.

    As you can imagine the weather has been the big news here for the past few daysThe news
    stations here are warning of "gusty squalls" which seems like a funny description of wind and rain to a midwesterner. I am gaining quite an education on tropical storms, monsoons, and hurricanes this week!  I have been thoroughly warned not to swim in the ocean during this time of severe weather.

    The greater Tampa community has been incredibilty firiendly and hospitible to our delegation.  Almost every restaurant, store, or bar has a "Welcome RNC Delegates" sign displayed proudly in their window.  We have felt incredibly welcome this week from the entire community.  There are volunteers in our hotel lobby to help us answer questions, the hotel staff has given us detailed recommendations for meals, and a waitress even invited us to join her at church.  Thanks Tampa!
  • Fahleson:  A morning of eating and bus rides


    With Tropical Storm Isaac in the area, today's schedule has been upended a bit.  This morning our breakfast--originally scheduled to be held in a tent on the beach outside of our hotel--was moved to Lee Roy Selmon's restaurant (former OU football star; despite that the food and service were fantastic).  After an extended wait for our buses and the usual security issues, we're now at Jackson's restaurant across from where the convention will be held.   This is a joint event with the Iowa GOP delegation.  Rest assured LJS reporter Don Walton is working the room interviewing members of the delegations, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.

    After this event, our official activities are done for the day and we'll take our hour-plus bus drive back to our hotel for more fellowship and planning for tomorrow's convention session and events.   From what we hear State Sen. Deb Fischer will still be addressing the convention tomorrow, and our keynote will be Gov. Chris Christie. 

    People are excited about getting the convention kicked off and nominating Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  The convention will feature the National Debt Clock; once the convention is gavelled into session this afternoon the clock will show how much the national debt has increased while the convention has been in session.  It's a visual reminder of why we need new leadership in the White House.
  • Don Walton: Profiling two Nebraska delegates


    Carlos Castillo
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 27, 2012 at 6:49 PM
    Journal Star reporter Don Walton is in Tampa and kicked off our coverage this week with profiles on a pair of delegates.

    The first is Carlos Castillo,
    a former Douglas County election commissioner and Gov. Dave Heinemann's 2006 campaign manager. You can read the story about him here:
    http://journalstar.com/elections/convention-delegate-romney-positioned-in-nebraska/article_783920cf-ef46-535f-b16e-f4a76f1f429f.html

    The next is John Tucker of Omaha, one of who delegates who planned to cast their votes for Ron Paul. That story is here: http://journalstar.com/elections/ron-paul-delegate-says-it-s-about-liberty/article_1276caf0-3204-52c7-93b7-ce617f98615a.html
  • Jessica: "Hurricane Day"


    So the closest comparision I have to compare what Floridians call a "hurricane day" is a SNOW DAY!  The schools are closed here, the restaurants are slow, and the first day of convention was essentially postponed until Tuesday.  Today as a delegation we participated in our planned events in the morning and early afternoon--a breakfast hosted by Aflac and a joint delegation lunch with Iowa hosted by AT&T.  In the evening we had a "Snow Day" back at our hotel with snacks, pizza, card games, and drinks.
     Beach Before Issac
    by jessicaon Aug 27, 2012 at 11:52 PM
    Beach During Issac
    by jessicaon Aug 27, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    Today as we were driving downtown, it was interesting to observe the security perimeter that is prepared for convention. There were helicopters circling the area, 10 foot steel fencing, and cement road blocks that indicate the boundaries where you need credentials to proceed.  There are law enforcement officers of all kind on foot, bike, and horse.  Thanks officers for keeping us all safe!

    I tried a new fruit today: Rose apple (Chambaka/Jambaka).  It was a sweet and crunchy fruit native to the tropical climate of South India that is mighty tasty when ripe.

     Wierd Fruit
    by jessicaon Aug 27, 2012 at 11:46 PM

  • More photos from Fahleson


    Hal Daub and the delegation at a lunch at the Columbia restaurant in Ybor City. 
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 28, 2012 at 6:33 PM
    Cuban dancers entertaining delegation at lunch.
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 28, 2012 at 6:33 PM
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  • Fahleson:  A Late Night, but a Positive One



    Yesterday was the actual first day of the Republican National Convention for our delegation.  After a nice lunch at the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa's Cuban district, we went to the convention hall to conduct the official business of the convention (adoption of the credentials report, rules, platform).  Because the schedule was upended with the postponement of Monday's business, our Tuesday social events conflicted with the new amended schedule.  After the delegation heard a great speech from future U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, it departed for dinner on a boat cruise with Gov. Dave Heineman.  I, along with National Committeeman Pete Ricketts and National Committeewoman De Carlson, remained behind at the convention to announce the roll call vote for Nebraska.  During the roll call I gave "shout outs" to the No. 1-ranked Husker Volleyball team, the College World Series, the Sandhills, Gov. Heineman and Sen. Deb Fischer.

    After the dinner event the full delegation returned to the convention hall to hear speeches from a number of top Republicans, capped by keynote addresses by Mitt Romney's wife Ann and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.  

    Ann Romney gave perhaps the greatest speech of all time by a presidential candidate's spouse.  She spoke of Mitt--a devoted and loving husband and father--and why he is uniquely qualified to be president at this critical time.  

    Gov. Christie spoke of doing what's right to make our country great again.

    The event was very positive, upbeat and especially exciting.  A highlight for me was that while headed to an event in the convention hall, I boarded an elevator with Sen. Marco Rubio, who kindly agreed to a photo with my family.  That's a keepsake.

    Unfortunately, the transportation leaving the convention left a little bit to be desired.  Three hours plus from convention hall to our hotel.  Transporation for the convention falls within the purview of Tampa.  Tampa has a Democrat Mayor and City Council.  Go figure.
    Walking to the convention from our buses.  Fitting that it's adjacent to Nebraska Avenue. 
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 29, 2012 at 2:57 PM
    On convention floor with Wisconsin GOP Chair and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 29, 2012 at 2:57 PM
    Fahleson family in Nebraska delegation seats on convention floor 
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 29, 2012 at 2:57 PM
    Sara Fahleson, Mark Fahleson, Abigail Fahleson, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio 
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 29, 2012 at 2:57 PM
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  • Fahleson:  We Don't Want a Country Where Everything is Free But Us

    Wednesday was a fun day for the Nebraska GOP delegation.  After an informal delegation breakfast, we headed off to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg for an event honoring Gov. Dave Heineman.  Among those in attendance were former GOP National Committeeman Duane Acklie and his wife Phyl, who were celebrating their 58th wedding anniversary.  Great people, and great Nebraskans.

    After the Dali reception we headed down to the convention hall to hear speeches from a number of top Republicans, with the evening capped off with a speech by future Vice-President Paul Ryan.  There were so many people trying to get into hear his speech that the Tampa fire department closed access to the convention floor, event to delegates.  (While waiting in line I chatted with Norah O'Donnell of CBS, which made for some interesting conversation).  So I had to watch the speech on television like the rest of America.  I was doing my duty as NEGOP Chair taking elected officials, candidates and VIPs into various skyboxes and receptions and thus wasn't on the convention floor when I should have been.  Oh well.  Won't make the same mistake tonight.  The balloon drop is a can't miss.  


    Best line of the Ryan speech?  Where he extolled our desire to not live in a country where everything is free but us. 

    In one of the skyboxes (that of RNC Co-Chair Sharon Day) my wife Sara noticed that the Fox News set was right below us.  Since she has a crush on Sean Hannity, we waited until a commercial break and she snapped a priceless photo of him with her iPad pointing at her.
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 30, 2012 at 5:39 PM
    My view of the Condi Rice speech, while waiting to get onto the convention floor. 
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 30, 2012 at 5:41 PM


    I was fortunate to snag a few tickets to the Kid Rock concert following the Convention.   Walked right into the floor of the concert as he kicked off the show.  Ran into several current and former Nebraskans at the concert.  A good time was had by all.  

    Tonight--Gov. Romney's acceptance speech and maybe a Journey concert.  Stay tuned.
    Kid Rock (Photo by Sophia Fahleson) 
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 30, 2012 at 5:37 PM
    A really bad photo of a really great Kid Rock concert.  
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 30, 2012 at 5:36 PM
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  • Jessica:  Convention Energy



    Last night was my first National Convention!  What an experience.  The energy in the crowd was incredible.  Delegations from every state packed the floor.
    by jessica edited by you 11:35 AM
      Ann Romney's speech was energizing and showed us a side of Mitt Romney that truely did speak to the heart.  She talked about how they married young and didn't care what other people thought.  They lived in a basement apartment and ate lots of tuna.  Ann was 22 when they had their first son.  She had a bounce in her step as she walked across the stage and her bubbling personality truely came through.


    Chris Christie gave a great key note to a cheering crowd.  He talked about his family background and how he speaks his mind just like his mother did.  I love his can-do, hard working personality.

    by jessica edited by you 11:35 AM


  • Jessica:  Fun day and Great Speeches!


    by jessicaon Aug 30, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Yesterday was a great day in Tampa.  We had a reception at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg hosted by Gov. Heineman and sponsored by BNSF.  At convention we had some great speakers!  John McCain, Jeb Bush, Gov. Fortuno, Tim Pawlenty, Condoleezza Rice, and Paul Ryan.  It was a great night of impactful speeches.  The crowd was loud and on their feet during the key note speeches.

    My favorite quote from Paul Ryan's speech was "College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life."  So funny!  Paul Ryan is an incredibly wise policy expert and a great addition to the ticket.

    Looking forward to tonight!
  • Fahleson: Dali Museum


    Nebraskans Duane and Phyl Acklie were recognized for their 58th wedding anniversary.  
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 30, 2012 at 5:43 PM



    Gov. Dave Heineman addressing the delegation at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.  
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 30, 2012 at 5:44 PM

  • Jessica:  The BIG Day



    The last day of convention started off with a joint delegation breakfast with the Alaska delegation.  We had two surprise speakers join us--Tagg Romney, Mitt's oldest son and a sptting image of his father and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.  Tagg Romney told some personal stories about his dad, his childhood, and how the family took a vote on whether or not Mitt would run for president a second time. He said that his dad taught him two things, how to not spend money freely even when you have some and how to do hard things and not give up on yourself.

    After taking a large group photo of all our Nebraska Delegates, Alternates, and Guests in the Tampa Bay Times Forum it was on to convention!

    There were energizing speakers all night, many telling personal stories about Mitt Romney.  His son Craig addressed the convention, partly in spanish.  We also heard from Newt and Callista Gingrich, Jeb Bush, Several Olympians, and Marco Rubio.  One of the themes I heard during the speeches is that--in the U.S. we have the ability to achieve anything we want (providing ability and hard work).

    As Mitt Romney entered, he shook hands with delegates on the floor many women kissing him on his cheek.  He addressed the crowd with confidence, humility, and intelligence--very presidential.  He shared personal stories about his wife and kids.  He provided his specific goals for our country and why he is the right man to do the job!  "America needs jobs, lots of jobs!...And I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs.

    The balloon drop topped off the experience, what an exciting day!
     Mitt Romney and Family, Paul Ryan and Family
    by jessicaon Aug 31, 2012 at 10:59 AM




     Raven Shirley and Jessica Heineman at Balloon drop
    by jessicaon Aug 31, 2012 at 11:00 AM

  • Fahleson: Photos from Thursday

    Me with the two GOP convention pages from Nebraska 
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 31, 2012 at 12:10 PM
    Balloon drop ready to go 
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 31, 2012 at 12:12 PM
    Clint Eastwood 
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 31, 2012 at 12:12 PM
    Gov. Romney entered the floor for his acceptance speech right next to the Nebraska delegation seats 
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 31, 2012 at 12:13 PM
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 31, 2012 at 12:15 PM
    Post convention concert by Journey.  Enjoyed taking my wife and daughter (who actually knew some of the songs!). 
    by Zach Pluhacekon Aug 31, 2012 at 12:13 PM
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