TAMPA, Fla. - Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel was the guest speaker for the Ohio delegation to the Republican National Convention here Sunday.
He spoke to Ohio delegates and guests on the patio of the Mainsail Hotel in Tampa where the 500-strong delegation is staying.
Mr. Mandel's audience was considerably fewer than 500, as most of the delegation was probably still in transit. The convention was supposed to start Monday, but has been delayed one day by Hurricane (or Tropical Storm) Isaac.
Among those in attendance was Betty Montgomery, former Wood County Prosecutor and later Ohio state Auditor and Ohio Attorney General.
Early arrivals from the Toledo area included alternate delegates Jonathan Binkley from Toledo, Jerald Bannister from Perrysurg, Helen Ann Wagoner of Ottawa Hills, and Sandra Barber from Fulton County, along with delegate Diane Haupricht of Whitehouse.
During the delegation's brunch at the Mainsail, Mandel received an endorsement from conservative pundit Bill Kristol founder and editor of The Weekly Standard. The brunch was hosted by the Cuyahoga County Republican Party.
In his remarks to the Ohio crowd, Kristol portrayed Mandel as someone who will join the ranks of other younger Republican U.S. senators and representatives, whom he contrasted with what he sees as fewer promising younger politicians on the Democratic side.
"I've seen this over the last two to three years, the difference of having a Republican caucus in the Senate that has a Marco Rubio (U.S. Senate, R., Fla.), that has a Kerlly Ayotte (U.S. Senate, R., N.H.), that next year will have a Ted Cruz (Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Texas) and a Josh Mandel and others who are young, who are dynamic, who have already been leaders at a young age, and will be leaders in the Senate. It's really healthy for the Republican Party and for the country actually," Kristol said. "I really think this is a very heartening sign. ... There have been times when it looked like the Democrats and the liberals had kind the next generation. ... It's so important to have intelligent and courageous young voices there on our side."
JoAnn Davidson, former Republican state House speaker from Reynoldsburg and member of the Republican National Committee, tried to impress upon the Ohio delegates how important their state is.
"Every meeting we have been in, every person we meet, their first question to us is 'how are we doing in Ohio.' This is a key state. We know that. They're looking to us to deliver in this situation," Davidson said.
She's referring to the fact that Ohio is considered one of a handful of "swing states" that will tip a close election one way or the other. John Kennedy in 1960 was the last President to be elected without a majority of Ohio's electors.
One of the departures in this convention from previous conventions is the relative lack of newspapers.
Newspaper writers and editors are working just as hard as ever to produce political reporting, but it's not showing up in the stacks of local and national newspapers that once were greedily consumed by politicos attending political conventions.
It's an eerie lack of paper.
"They used to send in the Dispatch, the Plain Dealer overnight. You guys used to give us the Toledo Blade. We don't get those anymore. It's a matter of a cost factor probably," said Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett.
He doesn't think the delegation is any less informed than they were in the days of printed newspapers being delivered to the convention.
"I think they do like I do. I got on my iPad this morning and pulled up the apps," Bennett said while holding up his iPhone.
Davies said his father and Ann Romney's father were brothers. He said he's used to seeing Mitt Romney at family events.
Mr. Davies is a Mormon, and has been since his parents converted when he was a small child and the family was living in Florida. Ann Romney became a Morman by a different path - she converted while she was dating Mitt Romney in 1966.
A fair amount of what the Ohio delegation will be up to will be closed to the press - another change from previous political conventions, where what happened after hours was open to the reporters assigned from the hometown papers.
Among those activities: a "Welcome to Tampa" with House Speaker John Boehner in St. Petersburg Sunday night.
A post-session reception with Ohio legislators planned for Monday night at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City was rescheduled for the Mainsail for the safety of the delegates. The press, some of whom are staying at the Mainsail, will be invited - but are asked not "to use the event as the basis for articles."