Ward: GOP convention atmosphere exciting, optimistic

From left, Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, Julie Ward, Beth Yoder of Chelsea and State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, at the GOP National Convention Sunday in Tampa, Fla. (Contributed)


Despite the weather delay in the start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Shelby County’s state senator, Cam Ward, is there, part of Alabama’s delegation to the convention and has helped to craft this year’s party platform.

In a phone conversation Sunday afternoon from Tampa, Ward, R-Alabaster, said the atmosphere at this year’s convention is very different from that of the last, held four years ago.

Alabama Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, on Monday honored Alabama Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia, with the Ronald Reagan Lifetime Achievement Award for his service as the first Alabama Senate GOP Majority Leader in 136 years. Ward and Waggoner are in Tampa, Fla., as delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention. (Contributed)

“While we were happy and excited four years ago, it was more of a downward note because I don’t think we had as much of a chance to win the election. This year, there’s much more energy and enthusiasm. The mood is really ramped up for this one,” he said.

While this is Ward’s fifth convention to attend, his role this year took on a new significance as he was elected to serve as one of two people from Alabama who helped craft the Republican Party’s campaign platform.

Republican National Convention Chairman, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, named Ward to the Subcommittee on Foreign Policy and National Security.

Each year, each state sends delegates to the convention, elected by voters. Of those delegates, one male and one female are asked to serve on the party’s platform committee. In 2008, the male member from Alabama on the platform committee was then-Representative, now Gov. Robert Bentley.

A press release said, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Alabama Senate, “Ward brings vital experience working to find conservative, business focused solutions to the problems in our judicial system and Alabama trade relations with the rest of the world. His degree in international relations will also help guide the Foreign Policy and Security subcommittee’s mission of ‘America Leading The World.’ ”

Alabama Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, on the Republican National Convention floor in Tampa, Fla. (Contributed)

“We re-write the party platform every year. The platform is a definition of who you are as a party and what your party stands for. I’m on the foreign policy section,” Ward said.

This year’s platform is largely focused on the economy, jobs and national spending, he said.

The threat of hurricane Isaac has put most in Florida and along the Gulf Coast on edge, and the official workings of the convention have been delayed by a day.

“However, it looks now like it’s going to go more to the west than was at first anticipated,” Ward said. “Everyone is just watching and praying that all remain safe.”

Ward said as of Sunday afternoon, the Tampa area had only received rain showers.

Delegates, like Ward, have already started their convention meetings.

“We have a delegation meeting in about a half hour to get our credentials and get things sorted out,” he said. “We’ll have meetings every single day of the convention.”

The highlights of this year’s convention are Wednesday night, when the party will nominate Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as its vice presidential candidate, and on Thursday, when it chooses former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as its nominee for president.

“This is going to be an extremely tight election. These platforms are a way of showing party solidarity and vision for the country. It’s an exciting time. It’s a lot of fun being on the platform committee and helping to shape your party’s future.”

Also serving on the platform committee from Alabama is Jackie Curtiss, 22, a political science and business major at the University of Montevallo, who is the youngest member of the platform committee.