By: FOX News Radio’s Jared Halpern reporting from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL
As Isaac churned in the Gulf, there was another cyclone spinning; this one, on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. As a reporter accustomed to elbowing my way around the U.S. Capitol, I figured I’d have no problem navigating the blue and red carpet of the Convention floor. I was wrong.
The floor is a crazy place. Members of Congress, governors, big party donors, delegates, convention staff and, of course, hundreds of reporters and photographers, all jockeying for space on what usually serves as a hockey rink for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
Secret Service and law enforcement – Federal and local – all made sure that only those with pale blue “floor credentials” get on the coveted carpet. Even still, Thursday night, as Mitt Romney accepted his party’s nomination for President, the floor was at maximum capacity, and then more people arrived in a desperate search for any unclaimed carpet.
It creates the exact atmosphere GOP bosses want: Energy, noise and controlled chaos that looks good on TV and sounds even better on the radio. Mitt Romney’s unconventional entrance – walking from the back of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, down a well cleared aisle courtesy of aggressive Secret Service agents – made the crush all the more crowded. Flash bulbs blinded all who were caught in the glare, and Kid Rock’s “Born Free” was nearly drowned out by screams, gasps and chants of “Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!”
As Romney finished his address, well after 11pm Eastern, 100,000 balloons began raining on the floor in a well organized, meticulously planned made-for-TV moment. Then, as Speaker John Boehner officially gaveled the Convention to a close, Cardinal Timothy Dolan offered a final prayer and the lights began to come up, but thousands of Convention goers lingered.
The walk off the Convention floor, once made difficult by camera crews and security now had one final obstacle: unpopped balloons and crumpled confetti.
Cleaning crews were no doubt less eager to make their way on to the red and blue carpet.
LISTEN to FOX News Radio’s Jared Halpern reporting from the floor of the Republican National Convention as Mitt Romney entered the arena for his speech Thursday night: