OGDEN — The threat of Hurricane Isaac caused a one-day delay in the start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.; but it did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Utah Republican delegation, which used the rain delay to put together 500 emergency personal hygiene kits.
The GOP convention, being held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, begins today.
The convention runs through Thursday evening, when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is expected to address the nation and accept the party nomination.
But while Romney will use every minute up until then to campaign, the Utah delegation at the convention, including Gov. Gary Herbert, gathered for two hours Monday with delegates from Hawaii, California and Arizona, to assemble hygiene kits in response to the threat of the storm.
“We did a lot of these kits,” said Rep. Brad Dee, R-Riverdale, a convention delegate.
The original intent was to assemble the kits for those who may be left homeless as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac, expected to become Hurricane Isaac, battering the area. But because the storm delivered minor rain and wind to Tampa, Dee said the kits can now be used for any disaster in the country.
While the Utah delegation assembled kits, two Weber State University student body officers continue to volunteer at the convention, issuing parking permits and credentials to the hordes of national and international media representatives covering the event.
“It is just so surreal,” said Andrew Gardiner, WSU student body president, in a Monday phone interview with the Standard-Examiner.
On Sunday night, a welcoming party was held for the media and delegates, with country star Rodney Atkins performing some patriotic songs, Gardiner said. It wasn’t until Atkin’s performance, Gardiner said, that it finally hit him that he was actually attending the GOP National Convention.
Gardiner, 24, of South Ogden, along with WSU Clubs and Organizations Vice President Abe Saucedo, 25, of Ogden, are volunteering at the convention out of admiration and support for Romney.
The off-and-on rain and slight winds in Tampa created by Tropical Storm Issac has done nothing to dampen the two students’ moods.
Before they are done, 1,300 press credentials will be issued, Gardiner said.
“This is a world stage. We have met a lot of reporters,” he said, including longtime American journalist John King, former anchor of CNN’s “State of the Union with John.”
Beginning today, Gardiner’s and Saucedo’s duties will shift and they will assist reporters doing early morning television remotes from the convention floor.
Gardiner said, excluding Romney, the three speakers he most looks forward to hearing from are Anne Romney, Mitt Romney’s wife; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.
Dee, too, is excited about what the convention will hold.
He said the message is getting out that Romney is a compassionate human being, and his selection of Ryan as his running mate signifies that he is willing to put the worth of the nation above politics where there were other GOP leaders Romney could have selected as his V.P. from states with a higher number of electoral votes.
Dee said: “I can see the changing of the nation.”