Saturday morning was encapsulated by one, singular event: a speech. Although the RNC had only alloted me about one minute to speak before convention delegates, I was still given the staff and attention usually reserved for professional lecturers.
First, so that everything ran according to script, a rehearsal was scheduled that morning in the Times Forum. After another breakfast at the buffet (for which dad once again deserves credit), the RNC sent a special government vehicle to pick up me and my guest, Ryan Thomas, from our hotel. During the entire ride to the stadium, I was elated, buoyed by feelings of pride at having been selected for the honor and wonder at the beauty of our surroundings (our driver chose to take the "scenic route"). In fact, the only moment of the ride that I did not enjoy was when the driver, a Tampa native, referred to our local DC hockey team as the "Crap-itals."
Arriving at our destination, we were greeted by a throng of RNC officials with various duties relating to my speech. One was assigned to lead me through the backstage hallways before and after my speech to ensure I made it to the right place. Another procured my pre-convention credentials. The stage manager positioned me in different areas and conducted mock interviews with me until he felt that the lighting and images on the stadium's screens were sufficient. A professional speechwriter helped me write my remarks in a way which reflected both my personal style and the Romney campaign's unique message. A professional speech coach worked with me for thirty minutes in a private staging room to perfect my delivery. A separate official was even stationed at the door to provide security. By the time Ryan and I finally exited the forum, we had been rehearsing for almost all morning. Luckily while rehearsing on the floor, I was able to see that the Virginia delegation had been given prime seating right in front of the podium.
Once again I journeyed to the convention center for media appearances, this time with Ryan in tow. After getting Ryan pre-convention clearance through my friends in the RNC "hub," we caught a quick lunch in the convention center's cafeteria just in time for me to go on camera with a reporter from CNN Espanol. The interview went excellent, especially because I enjoyed getting the chance to address Hispanic voters, many of whom probably came recently to this country in a manner similar to my own Hungarian ancestors.
In order to finish his profile, POLITICO filmed my media appearances throughout Saturday also, including the CNN interview and practice sessions for my speech. The final product should be aired around 2:00 PM on CSPAN tomorrow and on POLITICO.com's live feed.
Because we had received a free ride into Tampa, Ryan and I had no car to drive back to the hotel, so we shoveled over the $70 cab fare necessary to get to Clearwater (a clear indication of the distance that separates our hotel from the main attractions).
Anticipating a large number of parties later in the week, Marta Saltus organized a dinner at a local Cuban restaurant known for its live musical shows in order to help us hone our salsa dancing. Both the food (especially the homemade bread) and dancing were great, especially since I was one of the few younger men willing to dance.
After a near-perfect day, we arrived back at the hotel to some disturbing news. The convention events for Monday have been cancelled or postponed due to Tropical Storm Isaac, obviously threatening my speech. After contacting RNC officials, I was promised that they would let me know tomorrow morning whether my remarks would be rescheduled to a different date. The anxiety is sure to make this one long night...