Even Winter the Dolphin Can't Distract Delegates From RNC Business
A special VIP meeting with Winter was pre-empted by RNC business.
RNC business trumped a special viewing of Winter the Dolphin for Florida's delegates.
Wednesday's event in Clearwater was supposed to be a carefully planned celebration of the city's most famous resident – a rescued dolphin that has capitvated movie audiences across America.
Instead, the gathering at the Harborview Center had scant attendance by the delegates. Most of the delegates were at the Convention working on business that had been postponed due to Tropical Storm Isaac.
The Florida delegation "got called at the last minute to attended a 2 p.m. meeting" in Tampa, said Florida delegate Carol Dover of Tallahassee, who came to Clearwater regardless. "I just could not resist."
What was supposed to be a packed house of Florida GOP delegates was little more than a gathering of Clearwater Marine Aquarium staffers, Bright House Network executives and employees and a small gaggle of reporters.
Bright House Networks is an official sponsor of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
The event was emceed by Clearwater mayor George N. Cretekos, himself a fellow Republican. Aside from a few pro-GOP quips ("President Obama is from the Land of Lincoln and we will send him back to the Land of Lincoln."), the event quickly turned into a pep rally for Bright House Networks, a local cable television.
Bright House executive and former Clearwater mayor Brian Aungst, who also is member of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium board of directors, and a Bright House on-air personality, made the message clear: Unless one is a Bright House Networks subscriber, one cannot receive adequate coverage of the RNC.
"We don't interrupt [RNC coverage] with other national news or sports," said Bright House news anchor Erica Riggins.
Guests were informed that C-SPAN, a network of cable television channels devoted to Washington, D.C., politics and Congress, which is carried by Bright House, would have gavel-to-gavel coverage of the RNC.
C-SPAN vice president Peter Kiley, who also spoke before the group Tuesday, quipped of convention coverage, "This is our Olympics."
C-SPAN is also available on carriers that service Clearwater residents, including Verizon FIOS, Knology, DirecTV and DISH Network.
After the luncheon, visitors took a trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see Winter, star of the movie "Dolphin Tale."
"This is amazing, the staff that put this on did a super job," said Dover, a GOP mover and shaker in Tallahassee who is also the president of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. "The food is great, the information is wonderful, and now I get to see Winter in person!"
Fellow Republican Joy Lunt of Punta Gorda, who also is the chairman of the Charlotte County Mitt Romney campaign, didn't seem overly impressed, shrugging her shoulders and saying, "The lunch was the best. It’s nice, but I travel a lot." Rather, she seemed more interested in lobbying for the soon-to-be GOP presidential nominee.
"We need to turn that West Wing into a right wing," Lunt said.