Editorials

Welcome, Republicans, to the Tampa Bay region's slice of paradise

Welcome to paradise, Republicans. Hopefully, Isaac's wind and rain will not threaten this week's grand old party.

Amid the serious business of crowning the candidates for president and vice president -- Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan -- the Republican National Convention brings the entire Tampa Bay region into the national spotlight.

With 2,286 delegates, 2,125 alternates and about 15,000 accredited members of the media, convention organizers expect the total number of people descending on Tampa for the Monday-Thursday event to reach 50,000. The Tampa Bay Host Committee forecasts direct convention spending at $175 million or more.

Manatee County will certainly share some attention and some revenue from the spillover, better yet from people who return as visitors, residents and investors -- even relocating business owners enthralled by our sand, surf and serenity.

The 40th Republican National Convention is Florida's third as host but the Tampa Bay region's first. (Miami hosted the GOP gathering in 1968 and 1972, with Richard M. Nixon winning the nomination at both events.)

This is our time to shine.

Economic potential aside, the convention brings hopes among Republicans of victory in November and a change in direction for the nation.Last Monday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus outlined the event's goal.

"Americans know we can do better than joblessness, poverty and debt. This convention will present our vision for a brighter, better future and it will lay out an optimistic, achievable plan to make it happen," he stated.

The devil will be in the details, as scant as those have been in the campaign leading up to now. The political rhetoric has been vague and filled with big promises and mud-slinging from all involved. But that's fairly typical.

After the conventions are over, the candidates should be sharpening their messages with specifics to inform voters during head-to-head campaigning.

A grand schedule

The speakers who will be addressing the convention are among a who's who of Republicans, as usual. And this lineup is not inclusive, with many other party stars set to take the podium at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Florida gets a starring role, too.

Schedule subject to last-minute change:

n On Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker John Boehner, Fox News Channel talk show host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Ann Romney.

n Tuesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

n Wednesday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Arizona Sen. John McCann, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Condoleezza Rice.

The evening's focus will be outlining how Romney's "Plan for a Stronger Middle Class" will restore the nation.

Vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan will conclude the presentation.

n Thursday's coronation of Mitt Romney should be replete with the pomp and circumstance that has come to mark these political conventions. "We Believe in America" is the closing night's theme.

Florida Rep. Connie Mack, a Senate candidate, is on the agenda. Sen. Marco Rubio gets the nod to take the stage right before Romney, a strong sign of his rising stature within the Republican Party and an indication of a bright future.

This telecast is expected to attract around 40 million viewers worldwide.

For political enthusiasts, nothing tops a presidential nominating convention. Hopefully, Isaac will not spoil the party.

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