State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is there as Illinois chairman of the Mitt Romney campaign. It is at the convention that Romney will be nominated for president, though there is no suspense in that. But Rutherford says the convention provides an opportunity for the party to place its supporting actors before the public.
“Some of the speakers at the Republican National Convention, if we didn’t have the convention, wouldn’t be showcased. We’re taking about Condoleezza Rice, we’re talking about Tim Pawlenty and Chris Christie and folks like that, so there is value in the conventions if not just in the act of selecting the nominee” he said.
The Illinois contingent in Tampa consists of 69 delegates, plus alternates, spouses and sponsors for a total of about 350.
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Once the convention is over, the campaign begins in earnest. Rutherford says Illinois supporters of Romney will be trying to help in Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri.
But he says Republicans will put on a campaign here in the president’s home state, because the supporters want to see yard signs, bumper stickers and campaign offices brimming with activity.
Rutherford says it’s important to keep Republican voters energized, because while Illinois is not a battleground for president, it is for control of the House of Representatives.
UPDATE: The threat from Tropical Storm Isaac has cancelled many of the convention activities for today, with organizers hoping to hit the ground running on Tuesday.