Local At The Convention: A Wonderful, Wearying Week

TAMPA FL – After finishing what he called “an exhausting and exhilarating week” as a member of the Pennsylvania delegation to the 2012 Republican National Convention, Lower Pottsgrove resident Jonathan Spadt arrived home late Friday morning (Aug. 31). And, unlike his experiences in the Sunshine State, he didn’t need proof of identity to get past his own front door.

Security, or the lack thereof, and protesters

The delegate’s daily passees

As Spadt noted earlier during the week, security at the convention “was very tight.” There was, however, one interesting instance of back-door politics, after a fashion.

Pennsylvania’s delegates were meeting one morning at their hotel, where House Speaker John Boehner was an expected guest, Spadt said. Boehner was arriving at the hotel’s rear entrance, and a security crew from its front “went around to assist with his arrival,” he was later told.

The guards’ absence at the main entrance allowed a group of protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement to assemble without authorization in the hotel lobby, Spadt added. He and other delegates could hear them chanting “out in the lobby while a minister was giving the breakfast blessing … it was quiet in our meeting room so we could hear them.”

Not for long. The guards returned, and the group’s members “were quickly escorted out,” Spadt reported. They had come in on a bus, but left on foot; police confiscated their vehicle.

“That was the only experience I had with any protesters,” according to Spadt. “Police said their turnout was much lower than expected. Maybe it’s dying out.”

It’s time-consuming work, but someone’s got to do it

Spadt and Gov. Tom Corbett on the convention floor

“As disappointed as I was with the delay” the convention encountered Monday (Aug. 27) due to Hurricane Issac, Spadt said, “in retrospect, a three-day event was about all I could take. After the sessions, each night, there were various receptions to attend, which kept me out” until about 3 a.m. “As wonderful as the speeches were, most of the networking occurred off the floor. The late-night socials gave everyone a chance to share stories and views and, of course, business cards.”

Some of that socialization involved rubbing elbows with state brass. Gov. Tom Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley “were around us (the delegation) quite a bit, as were Congressmen Charlie Dent and Jim Gerlach,” Spadt observed. “I had a chance to be with other delegates and guests from Montgomery County and Chester County for most of the week. It is truly my privilege to have attended.

Ann, and Paul, and Mitt, and Clint. Oh my!

Ann Romney, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, and presidential nominee Mitt Romney all were speakers from whom Spadt said earlier he wanted to hear. That, however, “was before I knew Clint Eastwood would grace us with his presence,” he noted.

Eastwood’s ad-libbed performance Thursday night (Aug. 30), with an empty chair personifying President Obama, played to mixed reviews most of Friday. No matter whether delegates and outsiders liked it or hated it, Spadt thought the actor’s arrival “may have been the highlight” of the convention’s entertaining moments.

On the more serious side was Romney’s 39-minute nomination acceptance speech.

Editor’s note: At The Post’s request, Spadt agreed to keep our readers updated by e-mail of Republican convention activities and the Pennsylvania delegation’s role in them throughout this week.

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Photos from Jonathan Spadt; video from C-SPAN via YouTube