Transportation is always an important factor in moving delegates from their hotel to the national convention center site, but it’s of special concern to Illinois
Still, none of the delegates expected to have as long a day as some of them had Tuesday when they attended their first day of the condensed convention. A noon bus to the convention hall from the hotel was 90 minutes late. And after the convention ended the night at about 11 p.m., some buses didn't return Illinois delegates to their hotel until about 3 a.m.
Some delegates said bus drivers from outside the Tampa Bay area were brought in for the convention and didn't know local routes or got lost.
Later, Brady struggled while doing a verbal tap-dance act to fill the time for the arrival of U.S. House Speaker
Newt U: U.S. Rep.
That's short for Newt University, a consolation project the Republican National Committee set up to feature Newt Gingrich, the onetime presidential candidate and former House speaker. Gingrich, known for his lectures and sometimes grandiose ideas, speaks with guests in a roundtable forum.
"You always learn something when you're with Newt," Shimkus said. "Some good. Some not so good."
Oregon trail: The Illinois delegation was joined at its breakfast meeting by Republicans from Oregon, who are staying in the same hotel outside Tampa. But the affair had a distinctly Midwestern flavor.
GOP Chairman Pat Brady acted as emcee for the event, and while he gave shout-outs to Oregon's excellent skiing and golf, the banter and line-up of speakers tilted toward Brady's home state.
At one point, Brady killed time by asking members about Midwestern football teams. "Bears open up this weekend? College football, right?" Brady said. "Notre Dame in Dublin. Illinois play? Who do they play? Western Michigan in Champaign? Any Southern grads?"
The west coast Republicans must have gotten bored. Near the end of the breakfast, Brady apologized for making the morning so "Illinois-centric" before turning over the podium to a Republican official from Oregon. At that point, though, members of Illinois' sizable delegation started getting up from their tables, stacking their plates, chatting with each other at the back of the room and filing out to get on with the rest of their day.