Harrell enjoyed trip to Republican convention

Published 8:19 am Friday, October 5, 2012

Benny Harrell speaks to the Bainbridge Rotary Club about his recent trip to the Republican National Convention, held in Tampa, Fla.

Assistant District Attorney Benny Harrell spoke to the Bainbridge Rotary Club on Tuesday, to tell them about his recent experience as a Georgia delegate at the Republican National Convention, in Tampa, Fla.

Harrell explained that each congressional district gets three delegates and three alternates, and he was lucky to be one of the delegates selected from U.S. Congressional District 2. He went through an interview process and was nominated at the Republican Party’s district level.

“It was an incredible opportunity to talk one-on-one with a lot of the movers and shakers, at both a state and national level,” Harrell said. “All the energy and excitement is just something that you have to experience.”

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Harrell said that one of the most surprising things about his trip was the intense security. The convention was held Aug. 27 through Aug. 30, at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, a hockey arena.

“Every delegation had to be bussed in and you had to have your credentials with you at all times,” he said. “You couldn’t just walk in from off the street.”

Harrell also presented a slide show of photos he took during the event, including photos of the top speakers — former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his family.

Harrell said the Georgia delegation was lucky to get seats relatively close to the stage, even though the state is considered a relative lock to vote for Romney. Typically, convention organizers try to position “swing states” near the stage so that their delegations will get on camera more often.

One key advantage for Georgia was that the chairman of the Committee on Arrangements, the Republican Party body in charge of the convention, was Bainbridge native Alec Poitevint. Poitevint and his staff of approximately 100 people organized the convention and made sure it ran smoothly. About 50,000 people attended the convention.

“The sheer job of putting on such a large event is amazing,” Harrell said. “Alec is such an asset to Bainbridge and to Georgia. By having him as the chair, Alec really took care of the Georgia delegation and we appreciate that.”