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As Republican Convention Convenes, Daily Buzz Goes Beyond Convention Floor

August 27, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
Political editor Christina Bellantoni talks with Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill about the buzz generated on the convention floor and behind the scenes as the Republican convention convenes but postpones major events for one day.

GWEN IFILL: Back here in Tampa, the story of these conventions happened beyond the floor behind us. That’s why every night we’ll be tracking the daily buzz with NewsHour political editor Christina Bellantoni.

Christina, welcome. This campaign has — this convention has shrunk. But there’s always something else going on.

In this case, we saw Jeff Brown talk about those thousands of people who turned out to hear Ron Paul at the Sun Dome yesterday. Is there something else going on inside here, too, with Ron Paul delegates?

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, political editor: Yes, absolutely. Even though there wasn’t a formal convention program today, there were people that are supporting Ron Paul that are delegates from Oregon, from Maine, from all different states that are saying they’re not really sure what they’re going to do when it comes to that roll call vote.

The Romney folks say that they’re very confident that this is not going to be a big issue that prevents him from getting the nomination, but these are people that are still very passionate for the Paul movement, and they feel like he was slighted, even though they’re going to play this tribute video to him.

GWEN IFILL: You know, the interesting thing also with the Ron Paul folks is they are very lively on social media. They will — they’ll tweet the heck out of something if they’re not happy.

Is that going on?

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Absolutely. What some of these delegates are talking about is how they think that the movement itself could, if you pick up some independents, if you pick up some Democrats, that could create a whole new party. There’s a lot of discussion about that, where does the Republican Party go from here, you know, something we’re obviously taking a look at tonight.

Is that something that they could tap into, that next generation, and perhaps peel some votes away from Republicans, peel some votes away from the Democrats.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s what I wanted to ask you about, Christina, because many of those — in fact, most of the Ron Paul supporters tend to be younger generation. And yet the Republicans have had a tough time, certainly Obama did much better in the last election with young people.

What do you — what do you — what are we seeing this time?

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Well, there have definitely been a lot of people, you know, particularly at the Sun Dome event. But it’s not just that. There’s a lot of just energy among this Paul movement.

But when the Republicans say that they’re trying to do a lot of outreach to younger people, they’re really making a point to showcase, for example, Mitt Romney’s sons that are out there on the campaign trail a lot.

They’re trying to take that message and really, what they’re doing with the convention here, trying to make it more open to social media — making sure that’s not just people home with the television they’re watching — and all kinds of other ways as well.

GWEN IFILL: Interesting little detail today, Charlie Crist, the former governor of this state, Florida, announced today — he was a Republican once upon a time — he’s endorsing and speaking at the Democratic National Convention.

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Yes, you sort of have each guy — each convention has their flipper, if you will. You have Archer Davis, who’s a former Democrat, is going to speaking here this week. And then obviously the former governor of Florida.

What’s interesting about this is that one of the reasons Charlie Crist is not a senator from Florida today because he embraced President Obama physically, literally and figuratively with the stimulus program in 2009.

That was one of the first trips; the president went down there. They did this big hug that then was used as an attack against Charlie Crist later. So it’s not all that surprising that the Republicans, of course, scoff at it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s fair to say there’s a little bit of bitterness on the part of Republicans toward Charlie Crist.

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: You think. But he is, you know, he’s moderate, and that’s something —

JUDY WOODRUFF: Christina, you’re going to be reminding us of all the things we should be watching online.

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Yes, well, absolutely. The NewsHour has this enormous all-access pass effort that you guys are both participating in. We do the political checklist every day in our live stream. We obviously have an active Twitter feed — that’s @newshour. And then, of course, just our live stream 24 hours a day. So make sure to check that out.

GWEN IFILL: Thank you, Christina.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Everywhere you look. Thank you