This old port city in the nation’s most populous swing state won the Republican convention with its finest offerings — beaches, big venues, and a well-earned reputation for successfully handling major events like the Super Bowl.
But the Grand Old Party’s choice is also based on political pragmatism. The road to the White House in 2012 will once again pass through the Sunshine State, most Democrats and Republicans agree, and Floridians in particular seem likely to appreciate the attention.
But Republicans be warned: Florida is a place of big dreams and big guffaws. Democrats (Gary Hart) and Republicans (Rush Limbaugh) have both drowned in scandal here, while the 1968 convention in Miami Beach brought together Richard Nixon, race riots, Norman Mailer, and Ana, a 2-and-half-year-old, 1,266-pound elephant.
“Florida is always capable of surprising people,” said Carl Hiaasen, the famed Florida novelist and columnist. “The Republicans have been surprised here before. It could happen again.”
Here’s a clip-and-save guide to what delegates and party leaders can look forward to here, and what they should worry about. Continue reading here, although I wanted to be sure you read this paragraph about one of the downsides of Tampa:
Just a short drive from center stage at the convention, on an otherwise average street with Thai restaurants and steakhouses, debauchery awaits. “Nude girls — blast off in our space ship,” says the sign at 2001 Odyssey. Up and down Dale Mabry Highway, a stretch that claims to have more lap-dance emporiums per square mile than any other city in the country, the message is much the same: come hither, join the fun.
This is exactly what party officials will discourage, after being caught with a bill of nearly $2,000 from a bondage-themed club in California earlier this year. But one prominent strip club owner in Tampa doubts the warnings will all be heeded. “We offer a good time,” said Joe Redner, the owner of Mons Venus, the city’s most famous gentleman’s club, in business for 28 years. “We welcome a cross section of society, from age to political party to color to everything.”