Republican National Convention

Mariana Sánchez Ramírez

University of South Florida senior Mariana Sánchez Ramírez received a political awakening in Cleveland in July.

The Mexican born 22-year-old was one of a hundred students invited to take part in the Washington Center for Internships and Academic SeminarsRepublican National Convention event. The independent nonprofit group invites students from around the world to gain college credit through various political programs.

Tampa Police RNC Bikes Still On The Street

Jul 21, 2016
Chip Weiner / Freelance Photographer

When you are going to host something as big as The Republican National Convention, who do you call for advice?

This year's host city, Cleveland, turned to Tampa for advice on just what police needed to keep order with the estimated 50,000 people visiting. The number one answer from Tampa police was bikes.

Tampa Police got $50 million in grants to improve their security for the RNC in 2012. With that money they purchased equipment such as security cameras, patrol bikes, new uniforms and protective gear.

Jesse McLane / WUSF TV

A University of South Florida student who came to the United States from Mexico when she was 6 years old is in Cleveland this week, working and studying at the Republican National Convention.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi are going to speak at the Republican National Convention.

When Tampa was announced as the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention, law enforcement expected thousands of protestors to arrive with it.

The Tampa Bay Times recently reported part of law enforcement’s preparation included undercover officers infiltrating protest groups and working their way up into leadership roles.

Staff writer Richard Danielson wrote that story for the Times.  Danielson spoke with WGCU about how he found out about the story and what he learned about the operation.  

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF 89.7 News

Tampa is one of 30 cities invited by the Democratic National Committee to apply to host the 2016 Convention, in part because of the city's success hosting the Republican National Convention in 2012.

However, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat who was almost ubiquitous in the run-up to and during the RNC week itself, is apparently leery about his own party coming to town in two years.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

WUSF News picked up a number of awards, including three first place honors, at the Associated Press Florida Broadcasters Awards Ceremony in Orlando this past weekend.

The WUSF News Team won First Place in the categories of "Continuing Coverage, Large Market Radio" for its coverage of the Republican National Convention and "Election Coverage, Large Market Radio" for its work on the 2012 Elections.

Republican National Convention compilation

Dec 31, 2012

This is a condensed version of WUSF Public Radio's coverage of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. We have samples of our live morning and afternoon shows; features on how high-end escorts prepared for the convention; how protestors spent their evening; a series of vox pop interviews of Tampa residents affected by the convention; snippets of our coverage of political events; a feature on political advertising on Hulu and Pandora; and an appearance by a WUSF reporter on a WNYC program.

Bobbie O'Brien

The political conventions are over, and now we're able to start answering the questions - what did residents of Tampa Bay actually get from the Republican National Convention?

Our final take from the series, Voices on the Street, compares what people said before the convention to what they're saying now it's over.

Michael Gentry

Michael Gentry sells the Epoch, a newspaper for homeless people in the bay area. You can almost always find him on Scott Street, near the I-275 and I-4 entrance ramps. It's a good spot to observe what's going on in Tampa.

The Democrats were no sooner out of Charlotte when the bad economic news came.

A more disappointing job report than had been forecast. Economic numbers weaker than expected. Just 96,000 jobs were created in August, far fewer than what economists were anticipating. And even a lower unemployment rate — down to 8.1 percent from 8.3 — was explained as that more people had simply stopped looking for work. The hope of four years ago is quickly becoming a fading memory, especially for those whose lives have not seen the change Barack Obama once promised.

If you grew up in a bilingual Hispanic household, listening to the Democratic and Republican conventions may have sounded a lot like home.

It's no coincidence that both parties highlighted politicians like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.

Rubio, whose parents are from Cuba, introduced Mitt Romney at the Republican convention; Castro, whose grandmother immigrated from Mexico, became the first Latino to give the Democrats' keynote address.


The final tally was this: Tampa, two arrests. Charlotte, 25.

During last month's Republican National Convention, Tampa police distributed food and cold drinks to protesters in "Romneyville," while Chief Jane Castor earned props for her laid-back approach to the demonstrations.

And yet somehow, cops patrolling this week's Democratic National Convention in North Carolina have become the media darlings. This probably helped:

Behind the Scenes of WUSF News at the RNC

Sep 7, 2012
WUSF 89.7 News

WUSF Public Media mounted an unprecedented effort to cover the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Here are some of the photos from behind the scenes of the convention and behind the coverage on WUSF.

Special thanks to the organizations and companies that helped underwrite WUSF's coverage of the RNC: Lead sponsors All Children's Hospital and The Mosaic Company; as well as sponsors Bok Tower Gardens, Business Roundtable, Eurovision, and TECO Energy.

Dalia Colon / WUSF

Thanks to all who called in during episode 1 of Florida Matters: The Convention, which aired live from the Tampa Convention Center on Aug. 24, 2012. We admit, we got kinda giddy when the phone lines started to line up.

Guests on our Republican National Convention preview show included:

Bobbie O'Brien

It may be a little unfair - comparing a hurricane day to an annual Labor Day festival. However, downtown Tampa was deserted the Monday before the Republican National Convention compared to downtown Charlotte a day before the Democratic National Convention.

People crowded into Charlotte’s downtown streets for an annual festival while many of Tampa’s streets were fenced off and its memorials boarded up days before the RNC. The stark differences got the attention of Tampa City Councilwoman Yvonne “Yolie” Capin.

Normalcy Returns to Downtown Tampa After GOP Convention; Questions Remain

Sep 4, 2012
Steve Newborn / WUSF

The 12-foot-high steel barricades are gone. "Romneyville" is gone too, with some trash and ruts in the grass the only reminder of the protester's tent city.  But questions remain about the level of security deployed in downtown Tampa at the Republican National Convention.

(Sound) I've got my mind set on some red beans and rice, some chicken, sausage, and I want some macaroni and cheese and cabbage....

Briana Duggan / WFAE 90.7 FM

To borrow from baseball legend Yogi Berra, "It's déjà vu all over again" for protestors who attended last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa and this week's Democratic gathering in Charlotte, North Carolina.

They're seeing many of the same security measures, right down to the exact same barricades that lined downtown Tampa’s streets.

Bobbie O'Brien

Elephants are iconic Republican and they’re also the closest living relative to the Florida manatee according to the Florida Wildlife website.

So, it seemed only natural that the animal kingdom duo be the focus of our RNC art coverage.

First, the “Elephants Herd About Tampa Bay” art project. It gave 29 artists a chance to adorn, embellish and festoon fiberglass, elephant sculptures.

Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Tampa International Airport officials faced a major challenge Saturday--not a huge number of people leaving town after the Republican National Convention, but fans of the boy band One Direction.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

Remember how everyone was scared that thousands of protesters would descend on Tampa, throwing the RNC into chaos? Well, that "invasion" never materialized. And the convention delegates and the few protesters who showed up were separated so effectively that their paths seldom crossed.

Romney and Ryan Bid Farewell to Tampa Bay

Aug 31, 2012
Eric Mennel / WUSF News

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan held a rally in Lakeland, Florida today, saying "thank you" to the Tampa Bay area. They spoke to an estimated crowd of 2,000, and they made a special push to court disenchanted supporters of President Obama.

Congressman Ryan echoed an image from his convention speech earlier this week, one of college graduates looking up at fading Obama posters in their childhood bedrooms. Governor Romney called on supporters to bring those same voters into his camp.

About fifteen thousand members of the media were in town for the RNC--but perhaps you didn't notice, given the limited coverage of Tampa within the last week.

We've read the stories of strippers.

And listened to them on air.  Some snippets of news reports include:

"Like it or not, Tampa has a reputation when it comes to strip clubs..."

"Yup, Tampa strip clubs are dressing up before dressing down..."

Worshippers Observe RNC Party Politics

Aug 31, 2012

We’ve talked  a lot about the protests and parties surrounding the Republican National Convention, and there have been a lot of them. But there’s a religious aspect to the convention as well.

Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon invited conservative political columnist Cal Thomas to speak at its Sunday services. Two-thousand worshipers attended the 11 o'clock service.

"Cal we are so thankful you're here with us today. We look forward to hearing what God is going to say through you," said Pastor Stephen Rummage as he welcomed the guest speaker up to the pulpit.

Dalia Colon / WUSF

The Republican National Convention may have officially closed up shop Thursday, but Tampa Bay residents still had plenty on their minds Friday morning--from politics to economics, to how Tampa looked to the world.

On the final edition of Florida Matters: The Convention, listeners joined the conversation with our guests:

Steve Newborn / WUSF

I was in search of a good protester or two - which, after the first two days of the Republican National Convention, became rather hard to find in downtown Tampa. So I went to Cafe Hey, a coffee shop in the shadow of Interstate 275 that had become a de-facto hangout for the radical set. There, I came across Heather Merlis and Justin West, who was strumming a guitar on the sidewalk outside the cafe.

In Defense Of Tampa

Aug 31, 2012

It's been a rough week for my adopted hometown.

First, it looked like our worst nightmare would come true: a direct hit from Hurricane Isaac with tens of thousands of visitors in town for the Republican National Convention.

We were spared the worst of Isaac — but then came a raft of snarky stories about Tampa.

Among the things the Republican Party's presidential candidate is hearing this morning about the address he gave Thursday night is that "in a speech heavy on anecdotal history but short on policy details, Mitt Romney avoided major falsehoods."

RNC: Protesters Gather For Final Demonstration

Aug 31, 2012

They were dressed in masks. Some wore black bandannas over their faces. They were shirtless, beating drums, and one guy wore a boot on his head.

"Wake up, wake up! We want freedom, freedom!" They shouted.  

More than 100 protesters marched to Gaslight Park joined by Mitt Romney's effigy. Dozens of officers watched from the sidelines-- some on bikes and others on horseback. 

Steve Newborn / WUSF

After the Occupy Wall Street People and the anarchists seemingly fled downtown Tampa after several days of protests, the working class came out Wednesday outside the gates of the Republican National Convention. About 150 people - including postal workers, school employees and public officials - paraded through the downtown streets to petition for worker's rights.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

No arrests were made, although operations at TECO's Big Bend Power Plant in Apollo Beach were interrupted for a few hours Thursday due to a Republican National Convention-related protest. Five protesters chained themselves together in the middle of a road at the plant, while a sixth chained himself to a truck.