TAMPA, Fla. North Carolina’s delegation to the Republican convention will include some of the state’s top GOP leaders, some convention rookies and veterans, including one responsible for inserting a plank into the party platform.
And though Mitt Romney wasn’t necessarily their first choice, they’re committed to getting him elected over President Barack Obama.
“We need to make sure we unite behind Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan,” said Wayne King of Cleveland County, vice chairman of the state party and delegation chairman. “I want to make sure that we come out of this election with the right message and a united front.”
The delegation’s 55 voting members include House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius and Senate leader Phil Berger of Rockingham County.
The group also includes U.S. Reps. Virginia Foxx and Renee Ellmers and Raleigh’s Art Pope, a major financial backer for the party and conservative causes. He’s already given nearly $62,000 this year to the Republican National Committee alone.
Looking for campaign money
Delegate Jack Brosch of Charlotte, who is challenging longtime Democratic Rep. Mel Watt in the 12th District, is going to Tampa to look for money for his campaign.
“That’s pretty much the main reason I’m going,” he says, “trying to meet with Romney’s people and (vice presidential nominee Paul) Ryan’s people and explain to them that while the 12th is difficult, it can be won.”
Charlotte delegate Mary Summa has been a member of the platform committee at four conventions. A staunch abortion opponent, this year she not only voted for the anti-abortion plank but introduced a measure that puts the party on record against RU-486, which she calls an “abortion pill.”
The platform now calls for banning the sale of “any drug that terminates life after conception.”
“We need to understand that a belief in the dignity of the human person and the inherent right of the person to live is the linchpin of freedom,” Summa said.
Some abortion opponents are wary of Romney’s commitment. Romney has said he supports exceptions in cases or rape or incest. Summa is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“He says he’s pro-life and I’ll believe him until he does something that proves he’s not,” she said.
Doubts about Romney
Other delegates have their own reservations about their nominee.
One is Charlotte’s Matthew Ridenhour, a candidate for Mecklenburg commissioner chosen as a Ron Paul delegate.
“I’m concerned that (Romney) may be a little ‘big government’ for my taste,” he said. “But when I place him in comparison to President Obama, he’s the clear choice.”
It will be Ridenhour’s first convention. He remembers watching the 1988 GOP convention as an 11-year-old and asking his mother how somebody got to go to a convention. Now he knows.
“It’s (like) the excitement I had before going out to Vegas for the first time,” he said. “It’s the whole experience of seeing what it’s like firsthand.”