TAMPA, Fla. — Massachusetts delegates are in the coveted spot of being the home delegation of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. It’s an honor state Republicans haven’t had in 88 years, and it comes with perks and responsibilities.
The honor comes with rooms in the nicest hotel, tickets to the best parties and seats on the convention floor right below the podium.
Massachusetts Republicans haven’t had it this good in decades, says Beth Myers, a senior strategist for Romney who first worked in the party in Massachusetts in 1980. She spoke to the delegates as they gathered for breakfast Monday in an ornate chandeliered ballroom at the Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina.
“We’ve had some ups and downs but all of you have stood by and I hope you take great pride and great pleasure in being where you are in Tampa today,” she said. “And you got a good hotel location this time.”
Typically the Massachusetts Republican delegation is housed miles from the convention and is seated in the rafters. Delegates here know they are in a favored and historic position — one that may not come again soon.
“Massachusetts is a very blue state and I think this is the first qualified candidate we’ve had at the right time,” said Barbara McCoy, of Bourne, Mass. “This is Gov. Romney’s time right now.”
This is the first time since 1924 that Massachusetts has put forth a Republican nominee for president. Back then it was former vice president and former Gov. Calvin Coolidge, who was nominated to the presidency.
The long drought reminds Massachusetts GOP Chairman Bob Maginn of another historic drought.
“Being a Red Sox fan, I feel like, wow, they had to wait from 1918 until we got another World Series,” Maginn said. “We waited even longer to get a Republican nominated from Massachusetts for president of the United States. So I think we deserve a round of applause for sticking with it.”
Maginn and other Massachusetts Republican officials told the delegates that with their elevated position also comes a responsibility to be as former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey put it, “truth tellers” about Romney to other delegates.
“And make sure that they know firsthand from someone who knows Gov. Romney that when he came into office there was a $3 billion budget gap and he closed that without raising taxes,” Healey said.
Also making the case for Romney with the delegates this week are his sons. Craig Romney paid a surprise visit to the Massachusetts breakfast.
“It really is a testament to you guys sticking with my guys all these year,” Craig Romney said. “It’s not easy being a Republican in Massachusetts, so we commend you for it.”