The rest of the building’s filing centers are similarly deserted. Radio Row, once bustling, is now all but vacant. Three shows are still there broadcasting at 8:30 PM, and the only one that’s not from the West Coast is “The American Adversaries” (“Where political professional wrestling lives”), co-hosted by Lar Adams and Christopher Hart on 660 AM WORL in Orlando. The sign above their booth misspells both “wrestling” and “Christopher,” which makes me really like “The American Adversaries,” for some reason.
“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.