TAMPA - More than 50,000 visitors are expected for the Republican National Convention, so a good experience in Tampa during the last week of August could generate additional tourist dollars for years to come.
Cheerful volunteers will be a big part of that effort. That's why the RNC Host Committee is trying to recruit 7,000 volunteers. Monday they reported they are 65% of the way there.
Monday was the first day of small group orientation sessions for volunteers. The group of about 25 in one session for office workers were made up of more women than men, and more retirees than working people, but all were anxious to help promote the region they love.
Carol Schoepflin is using her vacation time to volunteer.
"It's a beautiful city, full of warm people and I just want to be a part of it," said Schoepflin.
The volunteers are reminded that the host committee is a non-partisan entity and as volunteers, their allegiance is to Tampa Bay, not Mitt Romney, not the Republican Party.
Still, Democrats are scarce and some volunteers admit they strongly support the Grand Old Party.
" I would love to push the Tampa Bay Area and the Republican Party," said Morton Steinberg of Pinellas County.
A local video production company is creating an orientation video for volunteers that will include some dos and don'ts. A preliminary list includes not asking for autographs or accepting tips.
There are also guidelines yet to be publicly released on how to deal with potentially hostile protesters.
Volunteer captain Marti Miller didn't think many volunteers would come in proximity to the protestors. Her concern was in recruiting the additional 2400 volunteers.
The minimum time commitment for volunteers is only eight hours. Host committee organizers expect most volunteers will put in more time.
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