TAMPA — On Friday morning, Florida reporters and editors attending the Republican National Convention were packing their laptops and video cameras. Nearly all of them are heading home. Few will be going to North Carolina to cover the Democratic National Convention.
The Palm Beach Post is typical of the change. After sending an editor and three reporters to Tampa, the newspaper will only send a single reporter to Charlotte. WPTV NewsChannel 5 sent two anchors to Tampa, plus an online reporter, a field reporter, a producer, and a videographer. Only one person, an anchor/reporter, will go to Charlotte.
Is the Democratic convention less important than the Republican convention? Florida readers and viewers could be forgiven for thinking that is true. But clearly, Florida news organizations that covered the Tampa convention treated it as a local story, as they should have. And for many of these same news organizations it is simply financially unfeasible to attempt to duplicate the effort in North Carolina.
While the state’s press corps was here, there were certainly some odd moments, including the fact that for most of the week the Fort Lauderdale-based Sun Sentinel kept the convention off its front page—a decision that, to me, is unconscionable. Overall, though, Florida reporters and editors did a good job.
And the final night of the convention offered the Florida media a host of local angles, with Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack, former Gov. Jeb Bush, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (who introduced Mitt Romney) all taking the stage Thursday night.
Bush had the most interesting and newsworthy moment of the three when he drifted off script and defended his brother, former President George W. Bush, with a stinging rebuke of President Barack Obama. The Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas captured the moment well:
But before he began his prepared remarks, he said he had to get something off his chest—the defense of his brother, former President George W. Bush.
“He is a man of integrity, courage and honor and during incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe,’’ he said to loud applause. “So Mr. President [Obama], Mr. President, it is about time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies. . . . In the fourth year of your presidency, a real leader would accept responsibility for his actions, and you haven’t done it.”
Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida also did a good job with Bush’s off-the-cuff remarks:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday gave a spirited defense of his brother, George W. Bush, during an address to the Republican National Convention—saying President Obama should “stop blaming” the former president for economic problems.
“My brother, well, I love my brother,” Jeb Bush said, detouring from a prepared speech about education policy. “He is a man of integrity, courage and honor. And during incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe.”
Bush directly challenged Obama for continuing to remind voters about inheriting a deeply troubled economy from George W. Bush in 2009.
“So Mr. President, it is time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies,” Jeb Bush said. “You were dealt a tough hand, but your policies have not worked.”