The Republican National Convention got underway Monday in Tampa.
Sixty-one delegates from Idaho are there. Thirty-two are actual delegates, while the rest serve as alternates. Ruthie Johnson of Hayden Lake is among the delegates. She went to her first GOP convention in 1964. She’s been to every single one since. At the age of 88, the Tampa event is her 13th convention.
Host Scott Graf spoke with Johnson before she left to ask her how conventions have changed over the last 48 years.
A: It was more exciting, in a way, when the vote was decided at the convention. And that changed over a period of time because more and more states had primary elections so they had their delegates selected before they got to the conventions. I think that changed when California changed theirs and moved theirs up. They used to have their primary in September and the conventions were in August. And the convention was over with by the time you got to California. And they decided to change theirs earlier. And they had so many delegates that it made a terrific difference so then a lot of other states changed also.
Q: Does that take away from some of the anticipation and how much you look forward to attending?
A: No, it’s always interesting and its always interesting to see the people. But one of the things that I think made a difference it helped sort out of the candidates so you found out which ones could stand up under pressure. And it wasn’t just decided real quickly over some fluke and someone was out of the picture because they made some little error along the way or some such thing. It really sorted out the candidates a little bit better, I think, when they had a longer time. I think it’s better for the candidates.
Q: How come you’re not bored with these yet? Why do they still appeal to you?
A: Well, I’m still interested in politics, that’s why. And I’m, interested in politics because…our country is run through the political parties and I’m just very interested in what’s going on what’s happening because it makes a difference in the lives of all of us. This year we have a candidate that I keep telling people…when we had the winter Olympics in Utah, they were ready to cancel the whole thing because it was in the red, it was in real trouble financially, it wasn’t being organized properly. And then Mitt Romney took over and not only did he make a success of it, I think it cleared something like $100 million. It was a tremendous success. If he can do that with our country and get it organized so we can pay our bills here, when we’re $16 trillion in debt – trillion. You can’t even comprehend what one trillion is, let alone 16 trillion.
Q: I wanted to ask you your opinion of Mitt Romney and it sounds like you’re on board with him...
A: I’m on board with him.
Q: Do you have a favorite convention?
A: Yes. Well, 1976 was exciting when Reagan almost made it. And 1980 was exciting when he did win.
Q: So how many more (conventions) do you have in you?
A: Well, I don’t know. I’m 88 so I’m not sure how long I’m going to last. But I’m still going strong. (Laughs)