By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
BIRMINGHAM—The lights have faded and the balloons have been swept away but the memories of the 2012 GOP Convention lives on in the spirit and hearts of the Alabama delegates that attended last week’s event.
“This was the fifth GOP Convention that I have attended and I can honestly say that the enthusiasm in Tampa was more than I have seen at any previous convention,” said Bill Armistead, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.
Armistead praised the work of his staff at the Alabama Republican Headquarters for their work in coordinating the many activities that they scheduled for the delegates. He singled out the ALGOP Finance Director, Britney Mitchell Garner, who was responsible for putting everything together from making hotel reservations for the 200 plus people to scheduling transportation to the convention and other events scheduled by Armistead’s staff. And, he was particularly proud of the location of their hotel. “We were fortunate to get a hotel within minutes of the convention hall when most states had to travel an hour or more to get to the convention. There are just not that many hotels in downtown Tampa but we happy to be able to get one of them,” Armistead said.
Great appreciation has been expressed by many in the Alabama delegation at the tremendous job by Chairman Armistead, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure that the attendees from Alabama had an exceptional time.
From the church service on Sunday to the last evening’s party, Armistead said he could not have been more pleased with the outcome of the many activities that scheduled for the delegates, alternates and guests.
Armistead said that one of the things he was most proud of was the speakers list for the Alabama breakfast meeting. “We had some of the most prominent speakers at the convention joining us for special events scheduled by Armistead’s staff including breakfast, brunch and lunch sessions,” said Armistead. In fact the speakers represented the who’s who of Republican luminaries.
“Chairman Armistead did a fabulous job at bringing so many great speakers to our breakfast, Artur Davis and Condelezza Rice were both so inspirational and Chris Christie was powerful and funny,” said delegate and ALGOP executive committee member Lynn Robinson.
This praise was also echoed by Don Fisher, delegate and ALGOP executive committee member, “I was amazed at the quality of speakers that came to see our delegation. I think we were all dumbfounded.” Fisher continues, “I have to say, they all did a tremendous job, but Chris Christie was better when he spoke to our delegation than when he spoke before the convention.”
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who spoke before the Alabama delegation praised Chairman Armistead for his work as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party and said that Alabama had the most impressive list of speaker of any state.
Some of the VIP Republicans who joined the the Alabama delegation for breakfast included: Gov. Chris Christie (NJ); Gov. Scott Walker (WI); Gov. Rick Perry (TX); Texas GOP Senate nominee Ted Cruz; former Gov. John Sununu (NH); former Senator Rick Santorum (PA); former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; first son Tagg Romney; Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to former President George Bush Karl Rove; RNC Convention CEO Bill Harris; RNC Chairman Reince Priebus; RNC Co-Chairman Sharon Day; RNC Political Director Rick Wiley; Weekly Standard Editor and Fox News Contributor Fred Barnes; Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach; and Martin Callanan, the conservative leader of the European Parliament.
“We have been working for months to line up all of our guest speakers but a couple were added at the last minute”, Armistead said. “”There were some speakers who we were unable to get confirmation on before we got to the convention so I set out to find them once we got to Tampa and that worked. Gov. Sununu and Tagg Romney were late additions that we were able to get at the last minute.”
Armistead said that he saw Sununu standing in the hotel lobby and went over to introduce himself. “We were talking and I just said, ‘Would to be free to speak to our delegation?’ He said for me to give his daughter a call because she was in charge of his schedule, I called her and sure enough he came.” He said that after seeing Sununu handle the liberal media he was sure the Alabama delegation would enjoy hearing from such a firebrand.
Armistead said he was very thankful for what was accomplished, “Most states only had 2 or 3 speakers all week and we were proud to claim the record number of speakers we set (total of 17) for having not only the most speakers but the top tier speakers. My goal for this convention had always been to make it the most memorable and enjoyable convention ever for Alabama delegates, alternates and guests.” From all accounts, Armistead succeeded in his goal.