Jessica: Thousands of people are waiting out Isaac here in Tampa to witness the Republican Party nominate their candidate for president in the Republican National Convention. Now, everyone already knows it is going to be Mitt Romney. So, why have the convention? Well, in part because it is tradition – a tradition that has been going on for more than 180 years. The first major political convention was in 1831.
Months before the conventions, members of the two main political parties vote in primaries and caucuses for the person they want to represent their party in the general election. Voters do not directly select the candidates. Instead, they choose delegates to come here to the national convention to nominate their candidate. So, just who are these delegates?
I am here with Evan Draim and at 17 years old, he is the youngest delegate at the Republican National Convention. So Evan, how did you get involved in politics at such a young age?
Evan Draim: Well, I’ve been involved in politics for a few years now, and I really attribute that to my family background, having relatives who grew up as displaced persons and political refugees from Hungary and immigrated over to this country. But having said that, this is a very important election for America’s youth that’s going to determine the trajectory of the future of this nation for a long time to come.
Jessica: Evan will be voting to nominate Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate for president.
The number of delegates each state has is based on the state’s population and voting history. Each state works a little differently. But for the most part, delegates are supposed to follow the lead of the voters who cast their ballots during the primaries and caucuses. A few of the delegates are unpledged, meaning they can vote for whomever they choose.
More than three months ago, Mitt Romney had already won a majority of Republican delegates, pretty much securing the nomination.
Evan: Also I’m really excited about nominating our candidate Mitt Romney and hearing his acceptance speech on Thursday night.
Jessica: These days, the Democratic and Republican conventions are just big televised media events, designed to promote each party’s ideas and candidates. In other words, giant pep rallies full of balloons, speeches, and, well, more balloons. For Evan, it is his first chance to take political center stage.
This is a big deal. You’re supposed to speak at the convention. So how are you preparing for that?
Evan: I’m taking it seriously because it shows the Republican party trying to spotlight my generation and show young voters how this election is impacting them. I had a professional speechwriter who’s helping me craft a speech that both fit the Romney campaign’s talking points and message, and the points I wanted to get in as well. I also have a professional speech coach, I have stage manager…
Jessica: So, you have got people.
Evan: I have people.
Jessica: Evan is not the only speaker scheduled this week. We expect to hear from Governor Romney, his wife Ann, and his running mate, Paul Ryan. And Republicans will also decide on a party platform, a formal statement of where the party stands on issues like healthcare and education.
- How did political parties choose their candidates before political conventions?
- Why did the leaders of the parties decide to change the procedures for nominating a president?
- How are the delegates chosen for the convention?
- How are the delegates supposed to vote?
- What are ‘unpledged’ delegates?
- Why are conventions now seen as giant pep rallies?