TAMPA, Fla. – New York, N.Y.
Don’t want to be a part of it.
So far at least, that seems to be the attitude of national Republicans as they nominated Mitt Romney for president Tuesday while paying special attention to the swing states that will decide the fall campaign between the former Massachusetts governor and President Obama.
Only one New Yorker, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, is scheduled to speak at the Republican convention, and he also will give the closing prayer at next week’s Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.
So far at least, the New York GOP delegation’s morning breakfasts, as at other recent conventions, have not featured the kind of headline talent that visits the swing-state delegations.
And even many top “electeds” from the state, such as Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, decided to stay home rather than come to the convention.
What does it all mean?
Delegates and party leaders agree: While New York is still a hugely important destination on the political fundraising map for both parties, it’s not going to earn as much attention at GOP conventions as will states that lean Republican or that are competitive in national elections.
In planning the podium schedule, “quite frankly, they’re focusing on the states that are really in play,” said Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford, who is attending the convention even though several of his colleagues decided to skip it.
It wasn’t always this way. Michael J. Norris, the Niagara County Republican chairman, recalled the 1996 GOP convention in San Diego, where former Rep. Jack Kemp, R-Hamburg, captured the vice presidential nomination and spoke to delegates and a national television audience.
More recently, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani – a party hero and presidential contender in 2008 – could be counted on to speak from the podium at some point at the quadrennial Republican gatherings.
But this year, Giuliani is nowhere in sight, and no other big-name New York Republican politicians are on the speaking schedule.
The state Republican chairman, Ed Cox, downplayed the significance of the lack of New Yorkers at the podium.
“It’s just the way things have fallen out,” he said.
Then again, the nation’s fourth-largest state may be bereft of GOP speakers because it’s currently bereft of Republican politicians in state or national office.
This year’s convention focus is primarily on young Republican rising stars like Tuesday night’s keynoter, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. New York, which is increasingly Democratic, simply hasn’t produced any of those in recent years.
Nevertheless, “New York is obviously very important,” Cox said. “That’s where the money is, that’s where the intellectual assets are.”
Rumors abounded Tuesday that a big-name speaker would attend this morning’s New York delegation breakfast, but other states were already getting visits from major party figures.
Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian firebrand and serial presidential candidate from Texas, attended an Iowa delegation breakfast Monday, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, whom Romney considered as a possible running mate, was set to address the Ohio delegates Thursday.
Meanwhile, the New York delegation breakfasts more often serve as trips down memory lane. Former Sen. Alfonse M. D’Amato, R-N.Y., delivered a stem-winding evisceration of Obama on Monday, and former Gov. George E. Pataki is scheduled to speak today.
“We’re dusting him off,” one breakfast attendee muttered on Tuesday.
With the convention lacking the New York state of mind of past times, several Republican House members opted to stay home, as did Chris Collins, GOP opponent of Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Hamburg.
Reed, the Corning congressman, said, “I’m never one that’s for the pomp and circumstance of the office. Why go to Tampa when we should be in the district, not only campaigning but spending time with family and friends?”