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Blog Day 4: San Antonio-area woman hopes to meet Ann Romney

Gale: 'This week has exceeded my expectations'

TAMPA, Fla. - Day 4 in Tampa...so happy!!

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The week has come and gone very quickly.

Personally, I am not a big speech-listening person. I enjoy meeting people and walking around and visiting with others. I missed a lot of the speeches for that reason. It was a great convention with promises and plans. I am encouraged that we can provide a better future for our children and grandchildren.

On Wednesday morning, we attended a breakfast honoring Ann Romney. It was a sold out event. All the Romney daughters-in-law attended with some grandchildren.

Tuesday night, we had about 2-3 hours of sleep before we arrived at the breakfast downtown. My friends, Sandra Ojeda Medina and Dee Momone, Bexar county chair for Congressman Quico Canseco, and a new friend had shared a shuttle ride at 6:30 a.m. to the hotel downtown. We were greeted by smiling volunteers, some of whom had arrived at 5 a.m., lining the halls from the bottom of the escalators to the ballroom upstairs. Some had stayed up ALL night to ensure a smooth breakfast reception. They seemed thrilled that we had shown up. Many did not come because it had been a short night (2-3 hours of sleep), and after issues with our buses after our first convention night.

It had taken us about three hours to get home that first night, after mass confusion on the streets concerning the location of the bus rides to the stadium for transport to Saddlebrook. Ashley and I had the pleasure of taking care of an elderly lady who had lost her way. We walked many blocks with her through downtown in search of our bus; I was determined that we would not leave her, even if we had to take a taxi back to the resort. She scared me several times as she walked quickly with sweat on her brow and panic in her voice. She was a member of the Louisiana delegation who shared the resort with us. That is a story that will go untold here because the issue was resolved the following night with an overwhelming show of possibly hundreds of buses to transport the delegates and guests to their hotels.

Back to our breakfast with Ann Romney and Jenna Ryan. Ashley and I had not printed our tickets, so we were confirmed by scanners on our phone after we downloaded event brite to our phones. Technology!! We entered the ballroom after airport-type security, minus the evasive body searches.

It was a packed house of about 1,000 VERY enthusiastic women. The colorful breakfast consisted of muffins, bagels, breads, assorted fruit, yogurt parfait, juices and coffee. I had been expecting a hot breakfast for my $75 per meal. However, contributing $150 to the campaign is a deep and satisfying pleasure. The back wall was lined with cameras of all shapes and sizes from the media. It seems every media outlet was represented. I figured I would be on TV this time as part of the room scenes; little did I know that a camera crew would pick me for their interview. Apparently, as I heard the reprimand, the powers that be had not approved personal interviews at that time. This female reporter seemed to not have received the memo. She talked to me and to Ashley on camera. I spoke at length to her as I sat at my table at the back of the room. I need to get to bed now, so I am not recalling much of the interview but here is a clip. Amazingly, unknown to me at the time, this is the sister station of KSAT 12. She had introduced herself to me as a CBS affiliate.

Mary Hart, former host of 'Entertainment Tonight,' was our MC for the morning. She was very high-energy and was determined to give us a great time. We heard from the wives of the Romney sons. Each had endearing stories to tell about their mother-in law Ann. Apparently, Ann is a great cook and two of the daughters-in-law had received desired cooking lessons after their marriage to the sons. One learned to cook and the other still has not. Their stories and the slideshow of the boys as rambunctious children in the Romney household moved us deeply and prepared our hearts for Ann Romney herself.

Ann seemed very real and at ease. I sensed no airs, but instead a person intent on letting us into her heart. A person intent on showing us that she had not been born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Her "storybook" marriage consists of dealing with MS and breast cancer.

Running for office as a candidate is such a soul-bearing event. A nightmare of sorts that does not end when the dawn breaks. My heart breaks for candidates who run to serve the country at various levels only to be stripped to the bone by heartless reporters and unfeeling opponents. I long for truth in advertising and forgiveness of past wrongs. How is it that we who are not spotless demand spotlessness of our candidates for office?? Why is that one spoken sentence or paragraph can derail a good man or woman?? This is not right. A blemished media and electorate expecting unblemished candidates. Many good men and women will not run for office in order to protect their families from the stripping of dignity. It is time for a change. Let us choose leaders who will serve with dignity even if the closet has some dirty laundry. I am not advocating for sin-filled leaders, but for acceptance of troubled past lives and forgiveness of verbal slips. We need to be forgiving and less vindictive in our campaigns. Candidates have feelings, too, and should be protected from the demand for nakedness after repentance. As Jesus said in the Bible, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone."

Ooops. Stepping down from my soapbox and back to Ann. It was a warm presentation. At the conclusion, I headed toward the line to meet her, I had hoped that God would allow me to share a word with her. The previous night, she had shared that before she and Mitt had gotten married, she had been an Episcopalian and he a Mormon. That really sparked my interest. Did she convert to Mormonism? I wanted to have some discussion on the issue with her. However, in a room of about 1000 women and media, would I even be able to reach her?

I made my way easily and surprisingly to the front of the room and there she was larger than life and I could see her being my First Lady -- warm but poised and elegant. I was now fully ready for the thought of January 2013. I now knew that First Lady Ann Romney was just fine with me. There she was! But many breakfast attendees were also wanting to have their moment with her. As I approached, I noticed that there was a rope line as I had seen on TV many times. Secret service agents, no doubt, were next to her with very watchful eyes. I knew I would have my moment with her and have the chance to share a word of encouragement with her. As I was poised to make my move and take a picture with my cell phone.. it rang.. DANG it!! Ashley was looking for me. I quickly spoke to her and tried again to reach my target...I was so close now and the women were now pressing me from every angle…each one eager for a picture or word with our First Lady of 2013. I was confident now that I would talk with Ann. I was about four women away when I had the idea to offer to take a picture for the well-dressed lady (let's call her Jane Doe) in front of me and she would reciprocate (according to my instructions to her by taking mine).
By this time, Ashley had pressed her way through the women to find me. I looked back at her as the women pressed on her from every angle, and I was a little bothered that she had gotten herself in the crush. However, I gave her my cell phone and told her to take the picture of me meeting Ann. So, I now have the lady's cell phone and Ashley has mine and the press of the women is getting stronger. Oh boy!!
I am now looking at Ann, at the Jane Doe and I know I got this in the bag. I take the picture of the lady with Ann. The lady gushes and does not leave Ann but chats and never offers to take my photo, she does not know that Ash has/had my camera phone because she is either caught up in the moment or not caring about me. As Ash was losing ground, I had taken the phone from her (bad move on my part-I now think) and oh well…I have to remind Jane Doe to take her phone, it's my turn now!!
Jane Does takes her camera phone and leaves without thanking me or offering to take my photo with Ann. I look at Ashley and look back at Ann to realize that in my hesitation, Ann had turned to the left AWAY from me. I touch her hand as she leaves -- unfortunately for me.
There is no "who touched my garment" moment. She is not Jesus and I am not ill. She keeps going and my moment with her is lost. I snap some pictures and wait for her to turn again. The lady in front of me has Ann's book (I think) and with a pen, SHE is ready for HER moment in the sun. I wish her well… Alas, the Secret Service agent tells her, "put that in your purse." She opens her purse and puts the pen away. I later hear her moan that the agent had cost her Ann's autograph. She, like I, does not get her desired moment with Ann. As Ann is told that she must go, many women are disappointed to lose their moment. Ann turns towards me, but away from the rope line, I reach out my hand, and she shakes it -- no time for a picture, as I have the camera and no time for our conversation about faith.

It was a letdown for me, but I know God's ways are perfect and I am blessed to have shared a very positive moment with our next -- I hope and pray -- First Lady of the United States.

It is 5:51 a.m. now on Saturday. I woke up around 4 a.m. and decided to blog, but I must get back to sleep before my flight today back to San Antonio.

This week has exceeded my expectations. I see Hope and Change of a different nature. More later.


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