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Start the Presses: Few specifics, more division, no true majority

August 28, 2012|By Dan Evans

Rain comes down hard in Florida. It comes down suddenly and leaves just as quickly, the UV-rays quickly burning your skin in the places washed clean of sunblock.

The contrast between the sun and rain is stark, similar to the difference between attendees of the Republican National Convention and their Occupy antagonists. Most of the delegates in Tampa have given — or helped raise — nearly inconceivable amounts of cash. One local delegate said he'd helped raise nearly $1 million for Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign.

It follows that one cannot give gobs of currency if one does not have quite a lot of it. Certainly nothing wrong with having a ton of money. But being around so many people with so much of it is a tad disconcerting.

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Disconcerting in part because of the Occupy RNC protesters, camped not in resorts on the beach but in tents in the mud. In the driving rain, hippies, freaks and true believers — or some combination thereof — participated in two separate marches Monday, denouncing what they see as the insensitivity and greed of the Republican Party.

One of these people was Stephen Sweet, who drove out to Tampa from California with four companions — two human and two canine. Sweet, born in 1968 in Pasadena, is homeless. The car, a silver Toyota, is a rental.

“My car is old,” he said with a grin. “It wouldn't have made it.”

Sweet said he made the trek out of a sense of civic responsibility.

“There's a real surge in interest by people these days; it's almost a renaissance,” he said. “People know what's going on, and they're pissed.”

The same feeling of agitation, but from a markedly different perspective, can be found 30 miles southwest, in St. Pete Beach. There, I spoke to two members of the California delegation at the Tradewinds resort, a swanky hotel on the Gulf Coast.

First, a side note: Shortly after walking into the hotel, I was stopped by a very polite, but firm, member of the St. Pete Beach Police Department. Apparently my attire threw him off.

“Well, you are wearing a long coat, and it's August,” he said.

“It's raining,” I replied, confused. “It's a raincoat.”

Afterward, I asked around, and my clothing choice was indeed locally perplexing: Few in Florida would dream of ever wearing a raincoat. I thought it would make more sense than an umbrella, given the forecasted — and largely overblown — affects of Hurricane Isaac.

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