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Clint makes delegate's day

Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:44 PM

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As one of the delegates to the Republican National Convention, Blaise Ingoglia had a front-row seat to the speakers, the music and even Dirty Harry.

And Ingoglia, chairman of the Hernando County Republican Executive Committee, said Clint Eastwood's ad-libbed speech "brought down the house."

Eastwood encouraged audience members to join in and shout "Make my day," the phrase made popular in the actor-director's hit Dirty Harry movie.

Ingoglia said he and Tom Hogan Sr., Hernando County's other delegate to the convention, were some 150 feet away from the stage where Mitt Romney accepted the nomination for president of the United States.

Ingoglia said he believes the speakers were able to highlight the diversity within the Republican Party and show the country that Romney is not the stiff, uncaring businessman some Democrats have made him out to be.

"Even though he's been ultra-successful in business, he's one of us," said Ingoglia, citing Romney's tearing up at one point in the speech.

Ingoglia said he was especially impressed with speeches from state Sen. Marco Rubio and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Both gave testimonials of how difficult it was for minorities and whose parents struggled to make ends meet to rise to positions of power and influence in politics.

"Although we did take some time to highlight many of the Obama administration's failures, much of the message was a positive one," Ingoglia said.

Ingoglia said he is aware that some liberals are blasting Eastwood's speech as being disrespectful to President Obama. During his speech, Eastwood pretended Obama was sitting in a chair next to the podium and the actor ticked off a litany of shortcomings he sees in his administration.

But Ingoglia said the routine was apt.

"It brought the message home that Barack Obama's just an empty chair," Ingoglia said. "He's been absent in creating jobs and creating wealth or the middle class."

Ingoglia said he was proud to represent Hernando County in helping nominate Romney for president and believe the convention will provide the party with a big boost in the polls.

Developer Gary Schraut, past member of the Hernando County Republican Executive Committee, said he especially connected with Rubio when the senator told the crowd his father worked as a banquet bartender.

Schraut said he worked 100 hours a week as a banquet bartender and makes it a point when he attends functions to talk with them and encourage them.

Schraut said Romney's speech should resonate with voters because it shows his experience for the presidency. Obama, he said, "has zero private sector experience."

And Schraut's take on Eastwood: "One party can align itself with (actor) Sean Penn and I'm proud to align myself with Clint Eastwood."

* * * * *

Not everyone was pleased with the Republican event.

Steve Zeledon, chairman of the Hernando County Democratic Executive Committee, said he was appalled at the lies told by so many speakers.

For example, Zeledon said Obama did not raid Medicare of $715 billion. Nor was he responsible for the closing of a General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis., he said.

Zeledon called Eastwood's "empty chair" routine an embarrassment and said it was unfair "to put an 82-year-old through something like that."

Zeledon said it is hypocritical for Republicans to talk about the importance of being an American while promoting "the un-American effort to suppress voters in the state of Florida."

Zeledon said he looks forward to Democrats setting the record straight during their convention next week.

"It's not going to be difficult for Democrats to continue on the high road after the performance that was put on by the Republicans," Zeledon said. "All they have to do is just present the facts." (352) 544-5290

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