Editor's Note: Mason Neck's Rob Hartwell is attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL. Hartwell is a Mitt Romney supporter and past finance chair of the Republican Party of Virginia.
I had the opportunity to join Governor Bob McDonnell, State Party GOP Chairman Pat Mullins and other luminaries at a small dinner, and especially enjoyed getting to know his daughters, Jeanine and Rachel.
Jeanine is an Iraq war veteran and the dinner coincided with the birthday of her new fiance as well. Rachel is a Virginia Tech graduate and like many, looking for a job! In fact, I thought of her during VP Nominee Paul Ryan's speech last night when he mentioned the 50% of college graduates unable to find work and living in the their parents basements with "fading Obama posters on their walls."
We had the opportunity to sit in the Virginia guest section and watch Ann Romney's and NJ Gov. Chris Christie's Tuesday speeches, which were both captivating. We watched earlier speeches from the posh open bar and gourmet food RNC donor lounge, but frankly, so many were talking and drinking and socializing that the view and sound from the seats was better.
However, my fellow Virginia guest Deborah Wallach, who is attending her first convention, greatly appreciated both venues... and the visit to the RNC lounge by former Sec. of State Condi Rice. While Ann Romney's speech highlighted her and Mitt's early struggles and hardships (eating dinner on an ironing board table), and clearly showed they were the parents of hard working blue collar families that worked their way to success, living the American dream, Gov. Christie's speech focused on the realities of governing.
Last night, Condi Rice, focused on the American deam via her inability to be served at the local Woolworth's in Birmingham to becoming Secretary of State, and she highlighted the dangers in the world and her concern of a leadership gap in the White House.
Paul Ryan thrilled the crowd with his life story, his family (I used to work closely with his wife Janna), and especially his concerns for future generations... and he may have bridged the generation gap and youth vote gap by relaying his love of music from "AC DC to Zeppplin." On a down note, after the euphora of Wednesday's session, Ms. Wallach and I were stranded on buses and arrived at our car at a local hotel parking lot at 3:20 a.m.
Local law enforcement blamed this on last minute Secret Service changes, but clearly bus drivers did not know the way around and were getting lost and a delegates were mobbing streets without lines or direction from the RNC. We calculated we had spent five hours at the Tampa Forum but nearly 7 hours riding or waiting on buses, and we are part of an RNC VIP package.
Tonight, Governor Romney accepts the GOP nomination and gives his speech... a make or break moment in the campaign, and he will have to follow a tough act to follow guest appearance by none other than Clint Eastwood.
We are hoping to meet Clint at the after event parties along with Eagle's musician Don Hendly and possibly Kid Rock and Journey who have also played here. Eric Clapton is a rumoured guest musician as well.