Washington bureau chief

TAMPA, Fla. — Maine Republicans gathered in Tampa Thursday night to hear GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney tell voters across the nation what they insist they already know: that he has the business skills, political acumen and personal drive to turn the country around.

Romney took the stage following a long list of speakers and performers that included former House Speaker and primary opponent Newt Gingrich, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and country artist Taylor Hicks.

Despite an intraparty fight that prompted some Ron Paul delegates and alternates from Maine to boycott the remainder of the convention, Maine’s allotted seats on the convention floor and in the surrounding stands were filled with delegates, alternates and invited guests supporting Romney.

Among the guests were Hampden Republican Rep. Andre Cushing, the assistant majority leader in the Maine House. Cushing praised the speech given Wednesday night by Romney’s vice presidential pick, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, saying he sensed “a resolution of somebody who has been at this for a while and understands the magnitude of what we are facing and wants to move beyond the sound bites.”

State Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, who is one of Maine’s 24 delegates to the Republican National Convention, had a different take on all of the discussion about whether Romney is warm and friendly enough to woo voters.

“In 2008 we voted for Mr. Congeniality,” Mason said. “I’m not interested in a beauty contest. I want real solutions.”

In his speech Wednesday night, Ryan came out swinging by attacking the Obama administration’s signature health care bill, the growing national debt and what he said were clearly failed economic policies.

Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, said the election offers a “simple choice” between candidates with very different visions.

“On the issues that regular Maine people care about, Romney and Obama are on the complete opposite sides,” Webster said.

As the turmoil in Maine’s delegation attests, not all of the state’s delegates and alternates who came to Tampa supported Romney. Ron Paul, the libertarian Texas congressman, received 10 of Maine’s 24 delegates, although Paul supporters insist that number should have been 20.

Rep. Aaron Libby is one of the pro-Paul delegation members who opted to stay involved in the convention. Libby didn’t expect to hear from Romney about many of the issues most important to him and other Paul supporters, such as adopting dramatically different monetary policies and auditing the Federal Reserve.

But in a potential nod to Paul’s backers, Romney has recently said he supports auditing the Fed.

“I’m glad we are going in the right direction,” Libby said. “We just need to keep talking about it and keep pushing it.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.