Republican National Convention

Republican National Convention 2012: Latest News

Aug 23, 2012

Check here for updates on the latest from the 2012 Republican National Convention -- all the links, tweets, stories and videos live from Tampa.

And you can add your voice to the conversation -- just send us an e-mail or leave a comment. What's your take on the convention? What stories do you want us to cover?

Isaac Takes Aim at Tampa

Aug 22, 2012

Check out the five-day forecast for Tropical Storm Isaac.

It could veer harmlessly into the Atlantic, or march through the middle of the Gulf...but most computer models have the storm hitting Tampa, possibly as a Category One hurricane.

We've been through this before, when Tampa was the bulls-eye for Hurricane Charlie...until the storm made a last-minute turn (sorry, Port Charlotte.)

Alex Cook

Food Not Bombs, the charitable activist organization whose mission is to provide food for those who need it around the world, kicked off it's 2012 World Gathering on Monday.  Keith McHenry, the co-founder of Food Not Bombs, said he chose Tampa not just because the Republican National Convention is in town, but also because of Florida's strict anti-homeless laws.

John O'Connor / WUSF

Ken Jones is a Tampa native and attorney for a local financial firm.

He's also tasked with leading the group that's hosting the biggest event to hit Tampa since the Super Bowl in 2009.

This is the fifth convention Jones has worked on.

He sat down with WUSF for Florida Matters. Here's five things we learned from the interview.

Strip clubs and heat--that's basically what The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has mentioned about Tampa during their preliminary Republican National Convention coverage. 

One of the show's correspondents, Aasif Mandvi, went to high school and college in Tampa. In an interview with Miami New Times blog, he says:

With the presidential nominating conventions right around the corner, NPR is continuing our already extensive multimedia coverage of the 2012 election.

In addition to live special broadcasts from the Republican National Convention (August 27-30) and the Democratic National Convention (September 4-6), our Election 2012 team is trekking down to Tampa, FL, and Charlotte, NC, to offer in-depth news, interviews and analysis across all newsmagazines and online. For local stations and broadcast times, visit

If you've been to Tampa lately, you may have noticed the new landscaping on Bayshore Boulevard or the brightly lit bridges over the Hillsborough River.

You have the Republican National Convention to thank.

Much of the estimated $43 million improvements to the city are being paid for by the city and by a $50 million federal grant. Other private funders have chipped in as well.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly how much is being spent because many of the projects expedited by the RNC were already on the drawing board. 

Also, others pitched in to cover costs. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have each spent $800,000 to upgrade their phone infrastructure in the convention center. Tampa Electric and TECO People's Gas are the founding sponsors of the "Lighting of the Bridges" project.

Here is a list of projects to be completed before the RNC from the city of Tampa.

Tampa Police confiscated bricks and pipes found on a rooftop of a building at the corner of Florida Avenue and Tyler Street. It's not far from a secure zone being set up for the upcoming Republican National Convention.

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor says the discovery of the items - including graffiti of a Guy Fawkes mask - similar to those favored by anarchists - is not alarming.

"Finding those items for us was not a surprise," Castor said during an afternoon press conference.  "This is historically how these things proceed before a large political event such as the RNC."

Organizers of next week's Republican National Convention may be experiencing a case of tropical depression.

While it's too early to make landfall predictions, a tropical depression in the Atlantic could intensify into a hurricane and may rain on convention organizers best laid plans.

Tropical depression 9 is headed towards the Caribbean and is expected to soon become a Tropical Storm. Meteorologist Diane Kacmarik at Bay News 9 says conditions look favorable for the storm to eventually become a hurricane.

Watch: Police Descend on Occupy Tampa Camp

Aug 21, 2012
Occupy Tampa

Red and blue lights filled the streets surrounding Occupy Tampa's encampment at Voice of Freedom Park last Friday night, as the Tampa Police Department made its presence known.  Officers in body armor patrolled the streets and squad cars stopped passing vehicles for random searches.  Occupy activists recorded it all and held a press conference on Monday, claiming that the TPD had overstepped its bounds and infringed on their rights.  

Let the Tampa bashing begin.

"Tampa is a hot urban mess, equal parts Reagan ’80s and Paul Ryan 2010s," writes Will Doig of

Doig paints the Tampa Bay region as perhaps the least-pleasant, most poorly-designed metro area in America. He dings the area for rejecting a tax increase for light rail, for its sprawl and its lack of green space.

It is "a disaster" and a cautionary tale -- elect Romney/Ryan and the rest of America will become just as hellish:

Courtesy of Between Brackets blog

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is asking the locals to watch out for anyone taking over vacant homes during the Republican National Convention. 

Hotels are booked and authorities say the thousands of protesters will be looking for a place to stay and may become squatters at homes that have been left empty. 

Sherriff's Detective Larry McKinnon says there are at least four red flags for squatters that you should watch for:

1) Numerous people suddenly moving into a vacant home or business.

2) Tents erected within backyards or uncommon areas.

The economic impact of having the Tampa Bay region reported on by 15,000 journalists is one of the main reasons given for hosting the Republican National Convention. And local business leaders are not leaving to chance the kind of impression the bay area makes.

Preparations started in January to shape how out-of-town reporters write about the Tampa Bay area during the RNC.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

Tampa Police rolled out their newest tactics today to help keep the peace at the upcoming Republican National Convention.

DaseInDesign / Flickr

Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema has done some reconnoitering in the political convention hosts cities of Tampa and Charlotte and his conclusion is that "both are equally ... middle of the road" when it comes to dining.

But Seitsema found a few things to like in both cities.

Leading the list in Tampa is Bern's Steakhouse (duh). Sietsema says it is as much an institution in Tampa as the Supreme Court is in Washington, D.C.

The Tampa Police Department demonstrated for business leaders the equipment and tactics they will use to control protesters at the upcoming Republican National Convention.

Several police officers acted as demonstrators whose actions grew violent.  Their counterparts in uniform then showed how they plan to respond to a riot.  Officers on bicycles formed a barrier, and mounted police corralled protesters until men in riot gear dispersed the crowd with smoke.

Full video below.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

A massive protest bringing together thousands of people from around the country is planned for the streets of downtown Tampa during the first day of the Republican National Convention. A group of organizers met today, and they promise the event will be peaceful.

They call themselves the Coalition to March on the RNC. A handful of organizers came out to Perry Harvey Park, the sliver of green on the outskirts of downtown that will be the starting point for their parade on the convention's first day.

The Republican National Convention is bringing lots of changes across the Tampa Bay area. And one of those changes we might want to plan ahead for is coming to the Selmon Expressway.

If you travel the Selmon Expressway, start planning your RNC detours soon.

The express way local lanes will be closed between Willow Avenue and 50th Street Monday at 12:30 a.m. through Friday at about 5 a.m. that week of the convention. 

The reversible lanes will remain open and operate as normal.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

It's less than two weeks to go before the Republican National Convention invades Tampa. But many people are still unclear about how it will affect those who live and work in and around downtown.  So Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is holding several town hall meetings to alleviate those concerns.

The speculation is over. Republican National Convention Chairman Reince Priebus announced this morning that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will get the coveted keynote speaking slot. In this press release, Priebus praised the straight-shooting governor as a model of "bold Republican leadership."

Bobbie O'Brien

Mitt Romney campaigned down Florida’s east coast Monday, but in just two weeks he’ll be camped out on west coast for the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Convention preparations are in full swing at the Tampa Bay Times Forum so much so that the weekly news briefing on their progress was held outside.

But, the RNC director of operations, Ryan Price, described the progress to news media.

Here's the above-the-fold headline on Sunday's Miami Herald: "Ryan could hurt Romney in Florida."

At the end of August, the eyes of the political world turn to Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention. It promises to dominate the national and local news in Tampa Bay that week and suck all the political air out of the room.

So if you're the Obama campaign, what do you do? How do you counterprogram Romney-palooza?

Apparently, by buying lots of TV airtime on The Bachelor, Dr. Oz and Rachael Ray.

Romney's VP Pick

Aug 11, 2012

[View the story "Romney's VP Pick" on Storify]Here's what people in the Tampa Bay area have to say about Mitt Romney's running mate choice, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

Fifty-thousand people are expected to pour into Tampa for the Republican National Convention.

By day, they’re expected to attend meetings, patronize shops, and fill restaurants.

By night, high-end escorts hope some convention goers will be spending their time with them.

Prostitution in the Tampa Bay area is expected to increase during the Republican National Convention. But will that lead to the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases?

We asked that question of a county health official, a high-end escort, and an academic expert. The answer is complicated.

When it comes to heat exhaustion, local health officials are planning to hand out fliers to educate convention-goers. But the Hillsborough County Health Department is not planning anything special to deal with the STD threat.

A forum on knowing your rights when it comes to demonstrating during the upcoming Republican National Convention was held Tuesday night at the University of Tampa. Audience members heard there be a fine line between what police will tolerate - and what they won't.

Bobbie O'Brien

The economic benefits of hosting the Republican National Convention are touted often, but who would have imagined that Tampa Bay Lightning fans would reap some of the rewards.

To accommodate the RNC at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Lightning is temporarily closing down its merchandise store on the western plaza.

“The area will be taken over by the RNC much like most of the, some of the office space and a lot of the under, the parking garage and everything will all be taken over,” said Brian Breseman, media relations manager for the Lightning.

Here's some cool time-lapse photography that shows the transformation underway at the Tampa Bay Times Forum as we prepare for the RNC.

It begins with the removal of the turf for Tampa's arena football team.

About halfway through, you can see the main stage taking shape.

We expect to see the completion of the preparations in the RNC's next video.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

Today marks one month before the start of the Republican National Convention. But many of the people coming to Tampa won't be sharing in the coronation of Mitt Romney - they'll be out in the streets, protesting what they say are the party's policies towards the less fortunate.