Jo Freeman
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The 2012 Republican Convention by Jo Freeman

Satellites and Sideshows

Conventions attract many groups which come to do something which they believe will find an audience among those attending the convention. The following are a small selection.

Women Up Pavilion

logo of the women up networkThe Women Up Pavilion was open to both men and women for R&R, policy panels and media interviews. While its purpose was to make conservatism relevant to women, its woman suffrage mini-museum was the only acknowledgment that convention week began on the 19th Amendment's anniversary (August 26).

interior of the women up pavilion where people lounge on sofas

Liberty Plaza

security guards use wands to check pedestrians

Several groups rented an empty field next to the convention security zone where they held numerous private events and several public functions under white tents. At the entry point, staff conducted personal searches which were more intrusive than those at the entrance to the security zone because there were no pass-through metal detectors. Since this was private space, those who looked like they didn't belong were denied entry even if they had made reservations for an event.

The DNC at the RNC

Each major party gives courtesy passes to the other party's National Committee, so it's quite common to see Democrats prowling the halls of the Republican convention and vice versa. Each party also hosts an opposition headquarters in the other party's convention city, releasing its own campaign propaganda to claim a bit of the media attention that conventions generate.

a woman stands in the doorway of a storefront covered with anti-Romney, pro-Obama posters

a shopping bag with an anti-Romney poster attachedIn 2012 the Democrats' counter-campaign was more active.

The DNC held daily press conferences at a storefront just outside the Tampa security zone, passed out a swag bag filled with anti-Romney items and sent a billboard truck cruising through neighboring streets.

a mobile truck based billboard states Romneys economic plan is wrong

Political button showing obama logo with the words Obama, Oy Vey written across itReligious groups

Republicans don’t have official caucuses. Among the many special interest groups that hold their own events, religious groups have been prominent. In 2012, the Republican Jewish Coalition hosted a reception while the Faith and Freedom Coalition held an all-day meeting that was open to the public and a private reception that wasn’t. Both embrace conservatism but pursue their goals differently. The RJC is primarily a lobbying group while the FFC is trying to build a grassroots organization of Christian evangelicals who will work to elect the candidates it supports. It was founded by Ralph Reed in 2009 after the Christian Coalition fell apart. Reed was the Executive Director of the CCA from 1989 to 1997.

Ralph Reed at the podium

Ralph Reed speaks to the faithful.

Political Parity

The Hunt Alternatives Fund held a one-day workshop at both conventions to promote "Political Parity" – a program to bring more women into government.

Christine O'Donnell and Swanee Hunt

Tea-party Republican Christine O'Donnell speaks to the meeting about how the media distorted her words and demeaned her image during her 2010 campaign for Joe Biden's former job as the Senator from Delaware. Next to her is HA founder Swanee Hunt.


Romneyville sign on a chainlink fence, behind are many colorful camping tents near an army navy surplus store

A Tampa minister rented land only a mile from the convention center as a poor people's encampment to highlight poverty and to provide a staging ground for various protests. With its colorful camping tents it looked like an Occupy camp, but it wasn't.
a stage in front of the army navy surplus store with Romneyville signs in front

Occupy Tampa

Occupy Tampa

Occupy Tampa had its own campground on private land
too far from the convention to be a staging ground for marches.

Food Not Bombs

Food Not Bombs held a "world gathering" there during convention week.

Ron Paul supporters

Ron Paul supporters were everywhere. Several thousand heard Rep. Paul (TX) speak at a rally on Sunday. Dozens were delegates, but not as many as they thought they deserved because some were denied credentials. Between one and two hundred Paulistas booed and shouted inside the convention when they felt they or their candidate was being slighted. They also joined in the various marches outside the convention, and greeted press and delegates with signs promoting their hero as they entered the security zone.

Ron Paul Supporters

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