Columbus,Ga--When the Republican Party of Georgia hit town Friday there were fears that supporters of Ron Paul might attempt to use extreme measures to disrupt the convention. Instead they simply caused Saturday’ proceedings to drag on from early morning until late afternoon.
And while the Paul supporters were rambunctious, loud, and in some delegations on the floor, confrontational, the biggest news out of the convention was a speech by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Friday night. To some who have known him throughout his career, it was the best crowd pleaser he has ever delivered.
Gingrich ended the address, held before a packed ballroom on the eve of the convention, well under his usual forty-five minute or so duration, deciding to simply leave the stage once the crowd rose to a thunderous standing ovation. The recent presidential hopeful declared “I am not for a narrow victory. I am for crushing the left in every single race.” Even Gingrich looked a bit stunned by the audience’s spontaneous combustion into a frenzy of applause and cheers.
The speech resulted in what may become a prophetic headline by the AJC’s Jim Galloway . It read “Newt Gingrich as Mitt Romney’s bulldog.” Within minutes of Galloway’s story posting, Gingrich supporters had turned the “b” in bulldogs into “B,” as in “Georgia Bulldogs.” Speaker Gingrich’s fiery attack on Barack Obama appeared to be just what Mitt Romney might want to throw some “red meat” to the party faithful at other Republican gatherings that Romney might not be able to attend around the nation.
Gingrich repeated much of Friday’s speech to the full convention on Saturday. By Saturday delegates were wondering if Romney might just make Gingrich his “Georgia Bulldog.” Of course Gingrich attended Tulane and Emory, so that “B” will likely remain a…”b.”
Other headlines from the convention:
- Longtime Gingrich adviser and GOP leader Randy Evans of the law firm of McKenna, Long & Aldridge, was elected National Committeeman for the state GOP while incumbent Linda Herren was reelected to the post of National Committeewoman. Attorney Frank Strickland, who also sought the post, might have made it a closer battle had an unexpected Paul supporter not thrown his own name into the mix as a nominee. Strickland, who after the vote had the duty of presenting the slate of delegates nominated to the national convention, gave a gracious speech congratulating Evans. Evans performed masterfully presiding over key portions of the convention where challenges from Ron Paul supporters were at issue.
- A slate made up mostly of longtime Georgia GOP activists was approved by the delegates, but only after several hours of verbal battles with supporters of former presidential candidate Ron Paul. The Paul supporters were liberal with their challenges to virtually every procedural move and with their jeers and boos.
- Governor Nathan Deal was well received by the delegates on Saturday…a clear sign that the GOP is solidly behind their popular governor (the latest InsiderAdvantage/Fox5 poll put Deal’s approval rating well into the fifty percentile range—a level few governors enjoy in this politically turbulent year.
- The party adopted numerous resolutions…including two that will potentially become issues in the future. Delegates backed a non-binding vote on casino gambling with profits going to education, to appear on the July 31st primary ballot. Another non-binding vote on limiting the amount of gifts to or expenditures for state legislators will also appear on the ballot. Governor Deal is opposed to Casino gambling and House Speaker David Ralston is opposed to tackling the issue of ethics using stark legislation, preferring other means to keep ethics in check.
- The Tea Party was indeed present at the convention—not as a party per se but instead as a “spirit.” A good number of delegates and alternates sported anti T-SPLOST stickers, oddly enough paid for by a relatively unknown candidate for Congress. Ironically, the anti T-SPLOST message was in huge letters, but one could hardly read the candidate’s name in extremely small print below.
- The convention saluted the many years of work by Alec Poitevint as National Committeeman and, on numerous occasions, as GOP Chairman. Poitevint has bigger fish to fry as the head of the committee in charge of the day-to-day operations of this year’s Republican National Convention to be held in Tampa.