USA Dot Com is a blog covering politics and government from a conservative Christian perspective. Verne Strickland is a 50-year veteran of investigative journalism. This blog offers a take-no-prisoners style with a modicum of biting satire. Verne and his wife of 55 years, Durrene, live in Wilmington, NC.
"There is real excitement for the conservative movement and the Republican Party here in North Carolina," said GOP congressional candidate Ilario Pantano of Wilmington today.
Pantano was interviewed as the NCGOP convention moved into its second day at the impressive new Wilmington Convention Center. The state Republican event is in Wilmington "for the first time in recent memory," according to GOP leaders here.
"President Obama has helped to accelerate the urgency we feel by his choice of Democrat convention being in Charlotte," said Pantano. "The result is Republicans are not wasting any time, and they’re mobilizing with great speed. The turnout here at our 2011 convention feels more energized than it did in the convention prior to the recent election."
This Republican State convention has drawn over 1,650 Republican faithful -- an all-time attendance record, said NCGOP State Chairman Robin Hayes, who won re-election to the post today.
Pantano, who is steadily gearing up his re-election effort, is enjoying enthusiastic attention at the meeting, which has provided considerable opportunity to address the crowds on hand.
"This convention in an off-year is more amped even than in the last election, and its exciting to see. It's taking place in our congressional district, so there's a great crowd of our supporters here," Pantano said.
He shared the stage during the opening night banquet on Friday with popular conservative Congressman Allen West of Florida, and noted that West "was very supportive of my candidacy in his speech."
During his own turn at the podium, Pantano said his remarks were devoted to honoring U.S. military men and women serving in harm's way.
"We need to remember the principles they are fighting for, and to protect those principles, because they’re giving their energies and their lives, dying and bleeding everyday for principle. We must honor those same principles here at home in our belief system, and that starts with our trust and love of the Lord. If we abandon that, we abandon jeopardize the social fabric of this country that has made America exceptional."
In closing, Pantano said American citizens "should put men and women in office who are worthy of leading our fighting forces. These young people are America's sacred treasure. We fail them if we don't have strong, honest leadership at all levels of government."
The 2011 North Carolina Republican State Convention concludes on Sunday.