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Monday, Sep 25, 2017
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Florida delegation hails representatives at RNC

TAMPA - A presidential nominee at the major political conventions is by design preaching to the converted. But throw in some smokin' James Brown music, fiery warmup speeches from a pair of Florida heavyweights, a cowboy hero and 100,000 balloons, and the host state's delegates could barely contain their enthusiasm for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's acceptance speech. "Out of the park!" exclaimed Karen Dove of Palm Bay. "He's our next president. You can take that to the bank. It was everything I wanted to hear about this country." "We're going to have jobs," Dove said, "the economy is going to improve, and government is going to get out of our face and let us take care of ourselves and our families.
"We're not going to be a people that depend on government to live our lives for us," she said. Ron Weaver, a Tampa land use lawyer who went to Harvard Law School with Romney in the 1970s, said he showed the "same quality he has showed for 40 years" including "a genuine affection for necessary, hard decisions." Frank Messana of Broward County called it a "great speech." "It was a direction for America, a direction we need to go," he added. "We need to be that thriving city on the hill again." Messana was also impressed with the appearance of movie gunslinger Clint Eastwood. "I thought it was a great showing," he said. "He showed that Hollywood isn't made up of all liberals, that there are some conservatives there that want to change direction." John Sorey, the mayor of Naples, also saluted Eastwood. "I thought it was a classic performance," Sorey said. But most impressive was Romney: "It was a wonderful speech. It showed you the real true man that Romney is and it put is in a position to win the presidency in November." A couple of high-profile delegates chimed in on the performance of earlier speakers representing the Sunshine State, including U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. "Think about what we've got tonight," Gov. Rick Scott said from his seat on the floor with the Florida delegation. "We've got Connie Mack, who did a great job, and we've got Jeb Bush, who talked about school choice and what we're doing here to make sure this is the number one place for education. "This is the Florida night!" Former House Speaker Dean Cannon, a delegate from Winter Park, also gushed over Bush's performance. "First of all, I've been a fan of Gov. Bush since he was first elected. I think he did a great job of identifying the issues and firing up the crowd," he said. Between the Florida slate of speakers and Romney's acceptance speech, "It's going to be a real ignitor tonight," Cannon said. Dick Beard, a Tampa developer and Republican fundraiser, said Romney's speech was more than political stemwinder. "It was like he was talking to us as partners in a boardroom, not like he was making a speech to us. I felt good about it." Asked about whether Rubio or Romney made the better speech, Brad replied, "You never want to follow Rubio."

jstockfisch@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7834

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