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Republican Convention now in full swing!

Eric Leys' thoughts on the first few days of the Republican National Convention in Tampa with one more day to go before returning to Illinois.

Each day, at every event, the momentum of the Romney/Ryan campaign can be felt. Yesterday was incredibly exciting in the convention hall, but the best is yet to come tonight! It feels that Republicans surely have enthusiasm on their side this
year.

It is has also been very exciting being a part of the Illinois Delegation once again. Even though it has been eight years since my last convention (I attended the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City), many familiar faces remain part of the delegation. In 2004, Judy Baar Topinka was State Party Chairman--and it was through her and her staff that I was invited to join the delegation and be a guest of the Illinois Republican Party in New York. Comptroller Topinka is still a significant presence and has addressed the delegation and hosted a fantastic party at our hotel in Clearwater last night following the convention hall activities.

In 2004, I also got to know and forged a friendship with (then State Senator) Dan Rutherford. Over the past years, Treasurer Rutherford and I have kept in close contact as he transitioned from a State Senator to statewide candidate and was elected Illinois Treasurer in 2010. Thanks to Dan's invitation, I was able to become very active in Romney's Illinois campaign and was elected as an Alternate
Delegate this year. Treasurer Rutherford chairs our delegation and has done an
outstanding job of organizing us and energizing our delegation in support of
the Romney/Ryan candidacy.

One face that I remember as a big presence in the Illinois delegation in 2004, addressed our group by video this time--Senator Mark Kirk. Senator Kirk's video was touching and received a standing ovation from our large delegation at a breakfast meeting this week.

Even though Illinois is thought to be pretty solidly "blue" thanks to recent electoral trends over the past 20+ years and Obama's home-state advantage, the
Illinois delegation has been treated to some fantastic speakers this week at our delegation meetings. Former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), who lost a razor-thin race for re-election several years back, extolled the importance of reaching out to every single voter and competing for every single vote.

We were also treated to a presentation from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), who told us that the democrat strategy to re-take the house “begins and ends” with five targeted seats in Illinois.

We have also enjoyed excellent ‘center-of-hall’ seating in the convention center; both our delegates and alternates are seated behind the Wisconsin delegates and
alternates.  And we Illinoisans have seen countless national media come up to video and photograph the various “Cheese-head” hats of all shapes and sizes worn by the Wisconsin delegation in support of favorite sons (VP nominee) Congressman Paul Ryan and Governor Scott Walker.

We are looking forward to closing out the convention strong tonight with Governor Romney’s remarks accepting our nomination, and then heading back to Illinois where the real crunch of the last two months of a very significant campaign will
commence.

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