The Monitor's Warren Richey was in Tampa, Fla., last week, cameras in hand, to capture the wacky theater that is a political convention. The GOP convention you saw on TV was the scripted version. There's oh so much more.
The gathering began under a threat from tropical storm Isaac and ended in the blazing Tampa heat. Expected massive protests by anarchists and the Occupy Movement never materialized – perhaps in part because of an overwhelming contingent of police and security officials.
Security around the Tampa Bay Times Forum often resembled a military outpost with an eight-foot-high steel fence and concrete barriers patrolled by Florida National Guard troops armed with assault rifles. Reporters lugging their gear the half-mile through the security zone in the intense heat and humidity were funneled into two checkpoints with TSA specialists, medal detectors, and X-ray machines.
Even well within the convention site, reporters were continually asked to show their convention credentials.
The real action took place inside the forum on the convention floor. That’s where Monitor correspondent Warren Richey spent most of his time – with cameras at the ready.
What unfolded represented a new level of political wackiness. Any item of clothing that could possibly support an American flag or elephant theme was on full display among the delegates and other convention participants. Lady Liberty made an appearance all the way from Long Beach, Calif., in a Colonial gown with a flag theme. A Kansas Jayhawk patrolled the floor, as did an Abe Lincoln look-alike who doubled as a delegate from Missouri.
Here is Warren Richey’s six-minute take on the 2012 Republican National Convention.