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Rain halts convention, but doesn’t stop Republican conventioneers

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TAMPA, Fla. – Some events may have been canceled because of the weather, but the politicking went on as usual Monday for Arizona delegates at the Republican National Convention.

And like any family stuck inside by bad weather, there was some arguing between family members, with tea partiers and Ron Paul delegate and others engaging in the political discussions that brought them here in the first place. But in the end, one official said, the family will come together.

“The Arizona delegation is committed to supporting the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket in full,” said Arizona Republican Party spokesman Shane Wikfors. “We will be articulating that from the floor of the convention when our governor announces that Arizona proudly casts its nomination for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.”

While Wikfors insists that all of Arizona’s 29 delegates will go to Romney and his vice presidential pick, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., others were coy.

“I’m going to vote for the candidate who most adheres to the Republican principles, has a conservative voting history and upholds their oath to the Constitution,” said John Laurie, a Ron Paul delegate from Gilbert.

Unlike other GOP candidates, Paul, a congressman from Texas, has not released the delegates he won in the primary to Romney. Paul does not have enough delegates to win the nomination, or to prevent Romney from winning it, but Laurie said his position sends a message to the party.

“We are here to hold them accountable and let them know we are the future of the party,” said Laurie, who took time off from school and his job as a firefighter to support Paul’s ideals and principles at the convention.

The delegation’s day began with a breakfast appearance by Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., whose district borders Arizona. She said Democratic claims that the Republican Party is waging a war on women are insulting, arguing that issues such as the economy and homeland security matter to women, too.

“We care more about how much it costs to fill up our gas tanks more than the price of birth control,” she said.

Bono Mack, the widow of singer-turned-politician Sonny Bono, said she has a front-row seat to liberal charges against the GOP.

“In some strange way, Cher and I are still connected, so I have to read her tweets about how much she hates Republicans,” Bono Mack said of Cher, her late husband’s ex-wife.

After the breakfast, Shirley Dye walked from table to table peddling raffle tickets for a 150th anniversary remake of the 1813 Colt .45, the Arizona state gun. Money raised in the raffle will go to help the Gila County Republican Party run its offices in Payson and Globe.

In between selling tickets, Dye, who is active in both the Republican and tea parties, tried to outline the difference between the two groups.

“Republicans want to see the candidates but they don’t know what to ask,” she said. “We (tea party members) really ask those candidates tough questions.”

One raffle-ticket buyer was alternate delegate C.T. Wright, an African-American human-rights activist from Fountain Hills, and one of a few minorities in the Arizona delegation.

Wright, a former Democrat who described himself as a proud Reagan Republican, said it was a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery and people need to be reminded of that.

“We have done a poor job telling our history,” Wright said.

His wife, Mary Wright, who wore a stars-and-stripes scarf around her neck, said the United States is a Christian nation.

“There are people on the other side that don’t understand the truth of what Jesus teaches, but America will always find the right path,” she said, adding that she prays daily for the country. “I am in battle. I do spiritual warfare in defense of America.”

Delegate Patti Lewis of Kingman mused that she would like to see Romney hold the federal government accountable is by conducting an audit of its budget.

“I believe they are spending our taxpayer money on things they shouldn’t be,” Lewis said.

Lewis sat at a round table under a covered patio, smoking cigarettes and talking with her friend. Though it wasn’t raining at the time, Lewis said the humid air made her skin feel wet and caused her hair to curl where she didn’t want it to, things she doesn’t have to deal with in Arizona.

This was her first tropical storm, and Lewis said it already taught her something.

“Don’t come here in August,” she said.