TAMPA, Fla. - I distinctly remember it - that fall night in 2000. The candidates were two political giants, George Bush and Al Gore, and though I had no idea what either man stood for, my eyes were glued to the television set. It was an exciting night that Dad and I shared in the TV room of our Reedsville home - a night I would not soon forget. The election would not end for another two weeks, but that night - Election Night 2000 - ignited my passion for politics.
Eleven years later, that passion has not wavered. In fact, beginning this past January, my life has been an adventure through the world of American politics - and I have relished every moment. From New Hampshire to Washington D.C. to Philadelphia, I have met the likes of Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Ed Meese III, Tim Pawlenty, Karl Rove, Jim DeMint, Paul Ryan, and, yes, Mitt Romney.
But my journey has far from ended there. Rather, it has culminated here in Tampa, Fla., at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Sentinel photo by JESSE?CROSSON
Thousands of balloons hang above the convention floor Monday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla, The balloons will be released after Gov. Romney’s speech on Thursday.
Officially, I am here in Tampa representing my school, Hofstra University, at the convention. And, from 2 p.m. to midnight every night, I will be working for Time Warner Cable to broadcast the event. But in the midst of those responsibilities, I will also be covering this week's activities from the perspective of a central Pennsylvanian. In Saturday's edition of The Sentinel, I will share that perspective with everyone back home in the Juniata Valley.
Thus far, Tampa has been full of excitement. Hotels are booked, restaurants are full, and the streets are crawling with police. With my media credentials, I have made my way to several exciting events, including an official RNC dinner and a reception for the delegation from Michigan. But no matter what the event, each group I have talked to - delegates, state party chairs, and volunteers alike - communicates the same message: this is Mitt Romney's chance to "reboot."
So, in the days to come, the convention will feature "character witnesses" for the former Massachusetts governor: colleagues, relatives, and family friends will each speak fondly of Gov. Romney, with hopes of defining him as a kind, compassionate family man.
Whether Republicans will succeed in their effort to reintroduce Romney, of course, remains to be seen. But regardless, I will be here - with the same excitement of that 10-year-old kid in Reedsville - covering it all, and I will look forward to sharing my experiences with the readers of The Sentinel.
Sentinel correspondent Jesse Crosson, a 2009 graduate of Indian Valley High School, is a student at Hofstra University, located on Long Island in Hempstead, N.Y.