Submitted by Daniel Burton for St. George News | STGnews.com, reporting from the Republican National Convention.
TAMPA, Fla. – From an unexpectedly long ride back from the Republican Convention Tuesday night to an unexpectedly warm and funny breakfast with Chris Christi, the Utah delegation is seeing both ups and downs.
After a long night at the convention, we piled into the “GOP Express” outside the Tampa Bay Forum for a short ride over to Raymond James Stadium. Under a giant billboard advertising the Buccaneers, along with future state senator Deidre Henderson and husband Gabe and Congressman Jason Chaffetz and his wife, we transferred to another bus that would take us back to our hotel and a Utah delegation hosted after-convention party. Getting in around 11:30 PM or so, we were the lucky ones. Another bus carrying the rest of the delegation (or, rather, nearly all the delegation) was delayed and sat idling for almost two hours.
“The bus from hell,” one delegate called it. The last place anyone wanted to be at 2 a.m. was on a bus. With typical aplomb and optimism, members of the Utah delegation turned it into what Sean Reyes called a “party bus,” singing Neil Diamond‘s “Sweet Caroline” and Aerosmith’s “Walk this Way.” (Classic conservative hits? No, not so much, but it’s music, folks).
Fortunately, the morning agenda didn’t begin until 10, and with Chris Christie headlining for a late breakfast, it didn’t take much to get delegates up and at’m. Sharing his lighter side and keeping the delegates rolling with laughter, Christie talked about Mitt Romney‘s visit to his home last year to ask for his endorsement for the Presidency.
“It was great to hear him,” said one delegate. “He could easily pick up a career as a stand-comedian if he retires from politics.”
Others agreed. “Christie gets a rap for being hard and bull-dogish,” said one man. “But I’ve seen him several times in a more private setting, like this morning, and he’s really just such a kind, funny, and friendly guy.”
It was rare opportunity for Utah’s delegation to connect with one of the biggest names in politics, and he didn’t disappoint. If Christie ever chooses to enter the national stage, expect Utah’s Republicans to lend him their support.
Dan Burton is KSL correspondent and freelance writer at the 2012 Republican National Convention. He lives in Holladay, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. You can follow him on his blog @PubliusOnline.com