All week, WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi has been broadcasting from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. He's been covering the local delegations and exploring the dynamics behind the convention headlines. He spoke with Morning Edition Matt McCleskey about some of the scripted and unscripted moments on the convention floor.
Here are some excerpts:
What was the atmosphere on the floor of the convention Thursday?
"There were things going on on the floor that you may not have seen on television. There was a lot of reporting here about how the protests that took place at this convention never really got off the mark, that they didn't really make much of an impression. But last night, on the convention floor, two members of Code Pink simply starting yelling very loudly when the presidential candidate Mitt Romney was making his speech. The crowd around them got so upset that they started yelling, "USA! USA! USA!" to drown out the two Code Pink members. That may not have really been necessary, because it did not take very long for security to drag them off the floor. That was the end of that, but it was probably one of the more noticeable protests at the convention."
How was the issue of Mitt Romney's religion addressed at the convention?
"It was addressed mostly by other speakers at this convention who preceded Mitt Romney before the primetime hour. It was clear all along that, at some point along the way, the Romney campaign and the party would have to address this issue. And they did a number of things leading into his speech, because he didn't speak directly about his own religion yesterday, but he was preceded by a former colleague of his in the Mormon church named Grant Bennett. He was in the same ward in which Romney served as a bishop. Indeed, he replaced Mitt Romney as a bishop in that ward, and he spoke a little about Romney's service ethic — how he woke up early in the morning, how he served the people in this ward very diligently, how he had a difficult time matching that kind of record. And then there were other members of the the church, who talked about the specific services that Mr. Romney had provided them when they were in a time of need."
"A theme began to emerge out of this: that Mitt Romney is the kind of guy who steps in when there's a bad situation and saves things or helps people. Out of that, a theme of this campaign, a theme of this convention, a theme of Romney himself, as a savior began to emerge. Obviously, the emphasis there was intended to suggest that Mitt Romney has to save the nation from the predicament that the Democratic Party and the administration of Barack Obama has landed it."
What were your impressions from our region's Republican delegations?
"They did seem confident. There was some disappointment, obviously, in the D.C. delegation about what happened with the platform. They weren't able to get in language that they thought would provide the at the very least budget autonomy for the District. Of course, there was no mention of voting rights in the platform. Even the language about budget autonomy was struck down."
"The delegates from Maryland were also fairly enthusiastic, but the delegation of Virginia got a great deal of attention from this convention, because for the first time in a very long time Virginia is considered a swing state. It was always considered a red state in the past, but after Barack Obama won it in 2008, it's not considered a swing state. They had a very prime position at the Tampa Bay News Forum. Governor McDonnell had a major speaking assignment there. Everybody at this convention, whether or not they were initially for Mitt Romney, now feel compelled to express enthusiasm for the candidate."
"One also got the impression from looking at some of the speakers, particular Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio, that a lot of the speakers at this convention were looking ahead to 2016 and looking ahead to their own candidacy and not promoting the candidacy of Mitt Romney."