By Susan Redden
Heads of the Republican parties in Jasper and Newton counties say party members will come out of the Republican National Convention united behind presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
A speech by Romney accepting the party’s nomination will wrap up the GOP convention tonight in Tampa, Fla.
John Putnam, head of the Jasper County Republican Central Committee, and Nick Myers, his counterpart in Newton County, said they are looking forward to Romney’s address. The two are among a number of local delegates at the convention.
A speech by Ann Romney on Tuesday helped introduce the nominee, Myers said.
“Folks are beginning to get to know Mitt Romney and his story, and they are positive and supportive about his nomination,” Myers said. “I know people in the Missouri delegation were impressed.”
Putnam acknowledged that he was a late-comer to the Romney camp. He said he has grown more excited about the nominee since he selected Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.
“He’s complementary to the ticket, and I think we’ll come out pretty well together,” Putnam said. “I was a little disappointed they didn’t let the other nominees have their brief moment in the sun.” That was a reference to convention rules that resulted in states’ votes for Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and other candidates not being officially announced.
State Sen. Ron Richard, of Joplin, another local delegate, said support for Romney is growing among the delegates.
“I think people are energized about him and the addition of Paul Ryan,” he said.
Richard said that for Ann Romney’s speech on Tuesday night, he gave up his seat on the convention floor to his wife, Patty, who also attended a breakfast for Ann Romney and Janna Ryan on Wednesday morning.
“She spoke without a script; it was very genuine,” Patty Richard said. “She’s going to be a huge asset to the campaign.”
Myers said delegates from other states have asked those from Missouri about the party rift involving U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. Party leaders, including Romney and Ryan, have urged Akin to get off the ticket after he, in a St. Louis television interview, said women who are victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant as a result.
Akin has apologized for the remark and said it was based on bad information. He also has refused to get out of the race, saying that would override a decision already made by voters in the primary election.
Putnam, an Akin supporter, said the lawmaker “has a lot of grass-roots backing among delegates who think we should support him as long as he decides to stay in the race.”
He also said he disagrees with party leaders who say that Akin, in the wake of the remark, cannot beat McCaskill. Republicans are looking for a win in Missouri to help them reclaim a GOP majority in the Senate.
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE CONVENTION are being posted on the Newton County Republican Party’s Facebook page.