Many conservative Republicans were incensed by the change to the party rules that centralizes power by giving candidates veto power over the delegates selected by the state organizations. Anger and frustration were caused not just by the new rule, but also by the way in which it was passed. The controversial call by the chairman, “In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it,” led to an eruption. The chairman didn’t recognize objections that were raised on the floor. Also not recognized were calls for a roll call vote to resolve whether or not it really passed.
The controversy didn’t stop there. A key vote in the Rules Committee preceded the floor vote. At least two members of the Rules Committee, including activist Morton Blackwell, were unable to cast their votes in that committee meeting because their bus was late. Blackwell’s minority report, which was the key opposition to the controversial new rule, was effectively stifled by the transportation delay.
Due to limited hotel space in the proximity of the Republican National Convention, most of the delegates stayed in hotels throughout the Tampa, Florida, area and were transported to the convention center in buses. The delegates met at predetermined locations, typically hotel lobbies, to board the buses according to predetermined schedules. The bus that failed to deliver Morton Blackwell to the convention center on time transported delegates from Virginia and Rhode Island.
The New American interviewed Rhode Island delegates Andrew McNulty and Richard Ford as they were departing for home and asked them to describe their experience on the wayward bus. According to McNulty, the bus got to the hotel about one hour late for the pickup and made the approximately 50-minute drive to the convention center without any significant delays. Once in the vicinity of the convention center, the bus began an approximately half-hour to possibly 45-minute odyssey looking for a place to drop off the delegates.
Ford described the erratic path of the bus around the convention center as having circled it at least twice and started to leave the convention center area when the passengers, noticing it was headed in the wrong direction, asked the bus driver to stop and let them off. From that point, the delegates walked about 5 blocks to the convention center.
Ford was wearing a Texas T-shirt to signify the Ron Paul delegates who were stripped of their credentials at the Republican National Convention and likened it to a second Battle of the Alamo. When describing the overall experience of being a delegate to the Republican National Convention, Ford said, “We pretty much came down here and got bombarded by the RNC.”