Republican National Convention Part III: 'These Are Our Celebrities'

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Tennessee Roll Call for Nomination of President of the United States
  • Joeff Davis
  • Tennessee Roll Call for Nomination of President of the United States

When we last left Rep. Julia Hurley, she and the Tennessee delegation were at the Florida Aquarium, eating lunch with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, Gov. Bill Haslam, and Winter, the aquatic star of Dolphin Tale.

But when she checked in with Pith yesterday afternoon, she started by describing her first experience in the convention hall Tuesday evening.

“It’s overwhelming," she said. "You walk in there, and it is the most overwhelming moment of your life. It doesn’t matter how long you stand there, how crowded it gets or how busy it is, that place is enormous.”

Riot police march down the street in downtown Tampa
  • Joeff Davis
  • Riot police march down the street in downtown Tampa

Many a tweeting reporter has commented on the notable security presence at the convention, and Hurley concurred.

"These people are not just security guards," she said. "These are army guys walking around with the American equivalent to an AK-47. I mean, they are serious. They are checking your bags every five seconds, they’re scanning your bags, they have X-ray scanners here. They are not messing around.”

Serious as they may have been, the appearance of armed guards did nothing to quell the excitement of Ron Paul supporters throughout the hall. During the mid-day, unaired, portion of Tuesday's convention schedule, many of Paul's famously relentless supporters saw fit to make a ruckus, by refusing to shift their full support to Romney. The Maine delegation — which would eventually walk out of the hall in protest over several matters — was particularly cantankerous. And as it turns out, Tennessee delegates were seated right next to them.

“Everyone from the Tennessee delegation is trying really hard not to look over at the people [from] Maine," Hurley said. "Because they’re trying to get everyone around them involved in the situation. So they’re screaming, ‘Do it! Chant Ron Paul! Ron Paul! Ron Paul!’ And we’re all sitting they’re going, ‘Oh my God, please don’t put us on TV because we don’t want anything to do with you.’”

Ron Paul supporter Brandon Navom during a video of Ron Paul
  • Joeff Davis
  • Ron Paul supporter Brandon Navom during a video of Ron Paul

Most outrageous to Hurley, though, was their decision to leave the floor.

“They protested and then left," she said. "So they pitched a big fit and then left. And I thought to myself, you know, it cost me $2,000 just for my hotel room for the week. $2,000 is what I spent, at minimum, to be here. And that’s not [counting] the money that I’ve spent while I’m here. And these people, they live in Maine. They had to have doubled or tripled that amount just to come down here and pitch a fit and leave? I thought to myself, you know the arrogance or the ignorance, I don’t know which it is, but wow. Wow.”

She says one of the biggest thrills of the experience has been milling around the convention floor, and bumping into the "celebrities" of the political world. She tells Pith that most of the convention speakers have come down to the floor to mingle with the delegates. Tuesday night, she passed along a picture of herself with former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“It’s just been absolutely amazing that — these are our celebrities," she said. "I think that’s one thing that people don’t understand. People want to see Michael Jordan, they want to meet these celebrities, but to us these people are our celebrities.”

She had high praise for Ann Romney's speech.

“She’s very well-spoken, she’s well-kept," Hurley said. "She’s a good example of what a mother and a wife and hard-working woman can be like. And what a good Christian woman can be like. I think that’s really going to resonate with a lot of females who are already like that and the ones who want to be like that.”

After telling Pith on Wednesday that Chris Christie's rousing keynote speech would be hard to beat, she sent a text message this afternoon, describing last night's events — headlined by Paul Ryan — as "Unbelievable!!!!!!"

Remarks by vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan
  • Joeff Davis
  • Remarks by vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan

Hurley says her fellow delegates have been telling her not to give up and encouraging her to run for office again. Will she, though?

"Probably not," she said.

The climactic final night of the convention — which closes tonight with Mitt Romney's acceptance speech, balloons, etc. — may also be the biggest of the week for Hurley.

For one thing, she may appear on The Daily Show this evening. In a tweet yesterday, Hurley reported that she had just done an interview with the show. She tells Pith this afternoon that the show's crew grabbed her walking down the hallway for the interview.

"It was funny," she says. "But we'll see if they air it."

Perhaps more exciting than an appearance on The Daily Show — if you can imagine that — Hurley reports that she's headed to the green room tonight, after the delegate she was serving as an alternate for gave her passes as a thank you for Hurley's offer to give up her seat to his wife.

"I've been so lucky this week," she says.

She assures Pith she'll be tweeting from her new seats with the VIPs.

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