TAMPA, Fla. -- Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch has never been to a Republican National Convention before. She came to the grand show in Tampa, Florida, this year as one of its stars, riding the coattails of Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, who is the vice-presidential nominee.
"This is my first ever Republican National Convention that I have not watched from my house," she said in an interview in Tampa. "We've had a heck of a year together in Wisconsin. To be able to cap off our year together by nominating Paul Ryan to be the Republican nominee for vice president of the United States is really a victory, a win, we can all celebrate together. We're tremendously proud of our hometown guy and it is excellent to get a bird's eye view of history."
A sign of how high the Wisconsin GOP is riding in national circles is evident by where they're sleeping. The Wisconsin delegates were given the plush Hyatt Regency, just a few blocks from the heavily secured convention sites. The convention was officially delayed by a day on Monday, because of Hurricane Isaac, which ended up mostly bypassing the city. Unofficial events and parties continued outside the main convention area.
Sunday night, Kleefisch spoke at the Unity Rally in northeast Tampa, along with Herman Cain. The rally was designed to rally tea party groups and the GOP together behind the Romney-Ryan ticket. Kleefisch is clearly thrilled to be here and she touched on many of the party's talking points.
Kleefisch says that Republicans have done so well in Wisconsin in recent years because the economy has been in the dumps.
"In the upper Midwest, the recession hit us really hard," she says. "We are a manufacturing-agricultural based economy, so our two main industries were impacted in a huge way. That means we needed reformers who had the ideas and the courage in order to pull us out of this deep recession."
However, she was vague about how Republicans would get the economy rolling again.
"The Republican formula for dealing with that is to ensure we no longer have 23 million Americans out of work. Our job creators need to be respected, particularly our small business owners," she says. "The governor has asked for me to be what he calls the jobs ambassador for Wisconsin. That means I travel the state, find out what we're doing right, what we're doing wrong, and often how we can get out of their way."
"Well, what we need to do on a federal level is the exact same thing," she says.
Kleefisch is hopeful the Republicans will carry the day in November.
"When people have the choice, when they have to pick, I believe they will choose the American dream, the American idea, and pick prosperity," she says. "If we can do for the rest of the country what we did in Wisconsin with our grassroots activists and our ground force, I think we're going to watch not only Wisconsin but this country turn red on election night."
Listen to the interview with Kleefisch.
Joe Tarr is in Tampa with reporters from WORT 89.9 FM covering the Republican National Convention and will move on to Charlotte to cover the Democratic National Convention.