PALM HARBOR -- They laughed at the jokes, slurped coffee, ate French toast made with Cuban bread and listened to various political theories about this election year.
At Thursday's "Fresh From Florida Victory Breakfast," Manatee delegates to the Republican National Convention heard the long and the short of Republican hopes to win the White House in November with presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton: "I think the most important thing that we need in a president to provide leadership internationally is a president who's proud of the United States of America, and we need a president who believes in American exceptionalism."
U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla.: "Florida will show that we understand that when you unleash the indomitable, entrepreneurial spirit of the American people, there's nothing that can hold us back."
U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., contrasted his voting record with that of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, noting if his opponent was the deciding vote in favor of the Obama Administration's health care plan, Mack had voted against "Obamacare."
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich: "There are no models that have Romney winning without Florida."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: "I refuse to be part of a generation that does not meet the challenge that is laid at our feet by the circumstances that confront us."
Kathleen King, chairman of the Republican Party of Manatee, said she particularly appreciated the contrasts the speakers made in regard to the leadership of the nation.
"Gov. Christie talked about the vacuum in leadership," she said. "He contrasted Republican versus Democratic leadership throughout the country."
Manatee alternate delegate John Colon also appreciated Christie's speech. "Christie, he was great," Colon said following the breakfast at Innisbrook Resort & Spa in Palm Harbor, where the Florida delegation to the GOP national convention in Tampa was housed. "He was better than great."
Colon also agreed with Gingrich, emphasizing how important it is for Republicans to win in Florida in November.
Colon called Gingrich "the smartest guy in the room, politically."
"Nobody surpasses Newt in that arena," said Colon.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031.