“It’s been a good convention. But I’m ready for it to be over,” says Adams. “Because we have to drive back to Orlando every night. We don’t get home until 2 a.m.” Adams and Hart (two other hosts, NostraDennis and Johnny Guns, are back in the studio in Orlando) obviously can’t wait to finish up so they can get to the Forum for Romney’s speech, but they’re nevertheless giving the show all they’ve got. “We want to thank all of you for listening to the American Adversaries prime time for one more evening here in Tampa!” says Hart. “We’ve been here live on Radio Row with all the big boys and girls, and it’s been a real treat.”
Their guest is Don Smith, a pleasant man who runs a veterans organization in Jacksonville. Smith is originally from Janesville, WI, Paul Ryan’s hometown. “Do you know the guy?” asks Hart. Don Smith does not. They talk awhile about Smith’s organization, All American Veterans, then turn to more immediate concerns. “One last question for ya, Don,” says Hart. “How do you feel overall about the convention? Has it been a success?” Don Smith thinks it has.
Over at the Forum at 9:15, it seems like there are as many people in the concourse as there are in the arena itself. Cameramen are on the prowl, looking for as much B-roll as they can get, film men in tri-cornered hats and talkative rabbis in beards and yarmulkes. Victor Gonzalez, a Miami New Times writer, is roaming the halls talking to people about Ann Romney’s baking talents. I met Gonzalez in January, during the Florida presidential primary, when he interviewed me about Mitt Romney’s supposed resemblance to Guy Smiley, who is a Muppet. “We’ve been on a mission all week to find Ann Romney’s Welsh cakes,” says Gonzalez. “So far we’re coming up empty-handed.” He’s talked to a lot of people thus far, including an ebullient Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich. “Jon Voight was really cool,” says Gonzalez. “He said he’d never forget me. He said I was the most eccentric interviewer he’d ever met.” Gonzalez heads down to the floor, recording equipment in hand, to confuse more people with his questions about cakes.
I head up to my assigned section: good old level six, section 325, where I can’t see a thing, and where I get very bored, very fast. (I am not alone in my boredom. A professorial fellow with a goatee and corduroys reads a Portuguese novel on his iPad, completely unmoved by Taylor Hicks’s musical promise that Republicans will soon be “taking it to the streets.”) After an interminable parade of current and former Republican US Olympians, most of whom seem to be skeleton racers or bobsledders, for some reason, I give up and head back to the filing center, where workmen are already dismantling the Google Lounge. My seatmate is gone, hopefully not to his eternal reward. There’s nothing left for me here; I can’t even see the televisions. So around 10:20, right before Romney speaks, I head out to the protest zone, which is very close to the convention center as the crow flies, but which is extraordinarily far in the maze of fences and barricades that is convention-week Tampa.
When I arrive, the vacant lot that is the designated protest zone is sparsely populated, with no more than 125 protesters halfheartedly milling about, perhaps exhausted by the long trek to the designated protest zone. “This is pathetic,” says Chris Faraone, a Boston Phoenix reporter who has been covering the protests all week. “The cops outnumber the protesters.” This is true. There are innumerable police officers on the scene, all of whom are unfailingly polite and friendly. As the protest migrates down Whiting Street toward the convention’s entrance gates, Faraone—who has reported on the Occupy movement from approximately 30 different cities— applauds the Tampa cops. “I guess we’ll have to give the fuckin’ Nobel Peace Prize to the fuckin’ sheriff here,” he says, not unkindly. “I’ve never been called ‘sir’ by anyone, let alone a cop.”