TAMPA, Fla. — Rep. Jason Chaffetz got a loud cheer from the Utah delegation to the Republican National Convention during his two-minute speech from the convention stage Tuesday afternoon.
Citing statistics about the debt, Chaffetz said President Barack Obama's solution is "more government and more taxes."
"This is not the American dream," he said. "Our nation is not just one good tax increase away from prosperity."
That dream, Chaffetz said, "was built on the sweat and blood of Americans who took pride and personal ownership in themselves and their country," and who, when times were tough, "quietly rolled up their sleeves and built a stronger, more prosperous nation."
Without mentioning the president again by name, he took another jab using Obama's recent statement about government's role in the success of private enterprise.
"The government didn't build it," the congressman said. "They built it."
While the Utah delegation cheered, much of the rest of the hall didn't appear to be paying too much attention to Chaffetz or any of the other House candidates who filled part of the afternoon session.
Chaffetz said he felt "very fortunate to be part of the process."
"It's very humbling to have an opportunity to speak at the convention," he said.
Chaffetz said he was able to see and hear the Utahns in the crowd loud and clear. They're sitting on the convention floor this year, just about a dozen rows back from the stage.
Utah delegate Kirk Jowers, head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, said it's not likely the speech by Chaffetz had much impact outside the state.
"It's certainly a big honor for him to have been chosen, so the recognition absolutely registers" in Utah, Jowers said, noting most convention speeches carry far more downside than upside.
"If you give a good speech, it probably will get lost," he said. "If you say something wrong, it will live on forever. He was great, so it won't live on too long."
Utah delivers votes to Romney
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was expected to announce that all of the Beehive State's 40 votes in the GOP presidential race were going to Mitt Romney.
Instead, Thomas Wright, chairman of the Utah Republican Party, stood before the microphone on the convention floor.
Wright touted the state's rating as the nation's best-managed, crediting Gov. Gary Herbert's oft used admonition to keep "government off your backs and out of your wallets."
With a second shout-out to Utah's geography, Wright then unanimously cast the state's 40 votes to "Utah's favorite adopted son, Mitt Romney."
Wright said Hatch, the head of Utah's delegation, asked him to take his place.
Gun story draws applause
Members of the Utah delegation burst into applause when 4th District congressional candidate Mia Love told them a story Tuesday over breakfast.
No, it wasn't about her parents coming to the United States from Haiti with just $10 and living by conservative principles, the subject of the speech she's delivering tonight from the convention stage at 5:36 p.m.
This story was about what Love encountered when she came to Utah for what was supposed to be a few months and ended up staying.
At a cellphone store, Love said she spotted a man openly carrying a gun in a holster and couldn't stop staring.
"He said, 'Does this make you uncomfortable?' I said, 'No.' And I said, 'Is that a Glock?' And he said, 'Yes.' 'A 26?' And he said, 'Yes.' 'A 9mm?' He said, 'Yes.' And I said, 'Great gun for a woman. That's exactly what I carry.' That's why this is home."
A few delegates gasped and others chuckled before all of them clapped loudly.
Love talked of her perspective of the state's pioneer heritage.
"When I was figuring out what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to live, I found home in Utah," she said. "I found people who believe in the same things I believe in. I found people who would express themselves freely and be OK with doing that."
Busch Gardens or Chaffetz?
Utah delegates had a choice Tuesday between a trip to the Busch Gardens amusement park or getting to the convention hall in time to hear Chaffetz, the only other Utahn with a speaking slot.
Wright told the delegates that Chaffetz's speech would be "the only thing you're really going to miss unless you're a parliamentary procedures guru."
The conflict is a result of convention organizers canceling Monday's schedule in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaac. Chaffetz, a key surrogate for Romney's presidential campaign, originally was scheduled to speak Monday.
Transportation troubles for delegates
The Utah delegates who wanted to be in their seats when the convention started at 2 p.m. Tuesday ended up being a little late — and it was Romney's fault.
The presidential candidate's arrival in Tampa came shortly before the bus was supposed to show up at the airport hotel where the Utahns are staying, and traffic between the airport and the Tampa Bay Times Forum all but stopped for his motorcade.
Wright said he saw the motorcade whiz by the delegation hotel while watching for the bus, which finally arrived nearly two hours late. Most of the delegates shrugged off the delay, and none complained about Romney's earlier than anticipated appearance in Tampa.
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