Now in her seventh term in the Connecticut General Assembly, Deputy Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-114: Orange, Woodbridge, Derby) is a fixture in Connecticut. And for the second time since taking her seat, she's a presence at the national Republican convention too. Klarides was appointed to the platform committee at the Tampa convention, which means she had a hand in crafting the principles the party will push for in the future. It also meant she arrived well before Hurricane Isaac had a chance to reshape the convention schedule. She took time to speak with Patch about her hopes for the convention and what it's like to be a delegate on the ground in Tampa.
It looks like Isaac has thrown the convention for a loop. How are you dealing with it?
Well, as I'm sure you've all heard by now, we've delayed the convention a day. [Klarides spoke to Patch Monday.] The concerns about the weather are about safety. As for the weather, it rained last night and it's been sprinkling off and on -- last night it rained a little, but that was after the fact.
What duties have you been performing in Tampa?
I was appointed to the committee on resolution, or the platform committee, so I had to come down a week early. We basically put together the Republican platform. Everybody gets assigned to a subcommittee -- I was assigned to the budget subcommittee. We all meet as a group each day for eight to ten hours. The best way I can describe it is like watching the house of representatives - there's a chairman, people put in resolutions, and we debate.
Was it a spirited debate?
There were suggestions on some of the budget things, but as you can imagine, I would say 90% of the platform everybody agrees with. You get into the social issues, and that's when you get into disagreement. There were issues on abortion, civil unions -- I spoke on civil unions, and it ended up making national news. [Klarides told CNN civil unions spoke to the Republican belief of "less government interference in our lives."]
How was this different than your previous experience at a convention?
To me, it's always different. [Klarides previously attended the 2004 convention in New York City.] NYC is NYC and nothing compares to that in regards to the dynamic. For that convention, a lot of people in the Connecticut delegation drove there or took the train … In New York, logistically everything is more condensed. In Florida, everything is more spread out. people are very excited about the prospects coming out of the convention.
What has you most excited or surprised about the convention this year?
Here, people are really excited to hear Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. Those people give hope and excitement for our party nationally. And they're not in the mold of what people think a Republican is.
It sounds like that's a direction you agree with.
That's how we handle things in Connecticut -- straight talk, common sense, no room for nonsense or political posturing. Let's get to the point. Let's get to the endgame. Let's figure out what's best for the people of Connecticut, and for the country. We find the quickest, safest, most effective way possible. That's people like Chris Christie and people who have the common-sense belief in the way government should run.