The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.
Going into the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, a lot of things were up in the air as Hurricane Isaac bared down on the Gulf Coast and the first day of the convention was canceled. But then we met the three iReporters who won CNN’s contest to attend the RNC -- Alex Anderson, Elizabeth Lauten and Matt Sky -- and we knew this funny, talented group could handle whatever came our way.
Tuesday was all about taking in the excitement. We watched the speeches by Ann Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie from the CNN Grill, where CNN had built a restaurant and TV set to host politicians and tastemakers during the convention. We settled in while actors Stephen Baldwin and Evan Handler, politicians Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, and journalists Tom Brokaw and David Gregory, to name a few, milled about, and CNN's Piers Morgan took a moment out of his dinner to meet the contest winners.
As the evening came to a close, we couldn’t wait to see what was in store for us next.
Wednesday a handful of other iReporters in Tampa that week joined us for a photo walk with CNN photographer David Holloway and photo editor Shana Darnell, who shared tips on framing, lighting and how to best capture protest images. iReporter Carol Lim put a few of their tips into action later on as she documented the small demonstrations around the city, including a man on a cross protesting the war on drugs. We had just enough time for a group photo in front of police on horseback before a thunderstorm drenched us.
After drying off, a few of us headed back towards the convention area and and stumbled across a shirtless man wearing a boot on his head. "Welcome to Romneyville, please take off your pants," he shouted from a megaphone. It was none other than the wacky presidential hopeful Vermin Supreme, who put down the megaphone for a few minutes to share some zombie survival tips with iReporters Luis Ramirez and Tim Young.
Afterwards, Matt Sky, his girlfriend, Julia Lundy, and I wandered into the Forum to snap some photos as busloads of delegates started taking their seats. The Texas delegation, all wearing khakis, blue dress shirts and cowboy hats, took quite a liking to the iReporters. Sky talked about Romney and Obama's views on the economy with an alternate delegate for awhile, and Lundy found herself in a heated discussion with another alternate delegate.
We kicked off the final day of the RNC with a taste test at the Grill and surprise visit from Wolf Blitzer – and then let the iReporters out on the loose. They had a lot on their plate: Interviewing politicians about their messages for undecided voters, getting speech reaction and documenting quirky sights of the convention.
We watched Wednesday night’s speeches from the Forum, and though we were high up in the nosebleed seats, the excitement of the crowd was electrifying. First came Clint Eastwood’s surprise address to an invisible President Obama. Then Marco Rubio, and then Romney took the stage.
Lauten, a conservative voter, marveled in the excitement on the convention floor just before Romney's acceptance speech. And Sky, a left-leaning Independent, thought Romney gave a powerful speech, but questioned the part where he asked if America was better off than four years ago. Going back to Bush-style economics "might not put us in a better place," he opined.
After the end of Romney's speech, more than 100,000 red, white and blue balloons dropped from the ceiling. "I loved it. It's one of the moments I waited for all night," Lauten said. "The crowd was much more excited and hopeful than the 2008 crowd," she added, referring to her experience at the 2008 RNC.
It was bittersweet bidding farewell to the iReporters. Lauten reminisced about all the great people she met at the convention and put together a highlight reel of her biggest interviews. The biggest thing Sky took away from the convention experience was "a better understanding of how similar we are," he said in his wrap-up video. Despite our politics, "most of us want to see this country prosper," he said. And Anderson must still be reveling in seeing Newt Gingrich, meeting Piers Morgan and and having Eastwood "make [his] day" during the final night.
You can look back at all the best iReports from the three contest winners, as well as stories from other iReporters and CNN employees, through our RNC 2012 Open Story. And be sure to check out the Democratic National Convention Open Story as the convention kicks off in Charlotte, North Carolina, this week.
Thanks for the background story, Christina. Can't wait to see how it goes this week at the DNC.
Day 3: There was plenty of hot air there to fill all those balloons...lol Love the pics tho.
thanks for the story...but i was hoping you also met with Hala Gorani:)
Thanks for these background reports and photos at RNC and DNC. Hope to meet you all someday.
I hope someone come out with the evidence and proof to solve the "mystery" of Romney's tax returns. I can't wait for that day.
Hello!! Fashion,low price,the good shopping places,
free shipping and quantity discount,
Air/ jordan /shoes(1-24) $40,
Air/ max /shoes $41,
(NFL MLB NBA NHL) jerseys $25,
Accept credit card and cash payments
====== www.gocntrade.com ======