I have successfully completed four days of The Washington Center’s 2012 Republican National Convention Academic Seminar! The actual RNC does not officially kick-off until Monday so delegates will not start invading the Tampa Bay area until this weekend. Nevertheless during the “academic pre-game” The Washington Center has put on during the past four days a lot has been going on. Our official scheduled programming begins promptly at 8:45 a.m. each morning. Here all 144 students and 18 additional faculty leaders pile into the performing arts building on the Hillsborough Community College Ybor Campus and begin our day listening to lectures put on by selected speakers from The Washington Center. The short list includes former CNN anchorman Arron Brown, Congressman Mickey Edwards, Dr. Michael Genovese and Scholar on the presidency from Hofstra Meena Bose.
Today was super exciting. Two days ago the GOP revealed the stage inside of the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Then today The Washington Center got to take a tour of the entire building including an up close look at the stage were Governor John Kasich, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney and others will all be speaking in just a few short days. The Tampa Bay Times Forum underwent a $40 million, privately funded renovation for this convention. I am looking forward to seeing the Forum again on Monday when it is ready for the eyes of 35 million people. Political conventions are the second most watched televised event in the world (just three million viewers behind the Olympics). When put into perspective, it is easy to see just how important this renovation is. Spending the afternoon at the Forum was a great experience. I can only imagine what it will be like in the upcoming days when its 19,000 seats are filled with the best of the GOP.