Politics

Tinley Park vet only Ill. delegate to speak at RNC

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan and Condoleezza Rice take center stage Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. There will also be a huge honor for a Chicago-area man.

"It will be wonderful. The fact that it is for our veterans, and one feels humbled in that," said Patrick Rea, Tinley Park delegate.

Retired Brigadeer General Patrick Rea is the only Illinois delegate with a speaking role at the convention, and he's worried about one thing. Because of his age, the Vietnam War vet didn't learn the pledge with the words "under God" in it. Those were added in 1954.

"That is new for me so I've been practicing," he told ABC7.

Headliners for day two include Arizona Senator John McCain, the party's failed candidate for president four years ago, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who some hope would have role in a Romney administration.

Ryan, who practiced at the podium Wednesday afternoon, will close out the night. He's the first House member to join a Republican presidential ticket since Geraldine Ferraro in 1984.

After his speech, it won't just be conventional media commenting. This is the first social media convention. Sharing messages on the party's Facebook and Twitter pages has become just as important as what's happening on the convention floor.

"It gives me the sense that I'm a participant in the convention, even if I'm not a delegate, even if I'm not invited and I'm just sitting in my apartment in Chicago following from afar," said David Faris, Roosevelt University.

The down side, according to political social media experts: it's difficult to control the message. Conventions are about everyone marching to the same beat. Social media changes the tune.

"We're going to see these things taken for a test drive, and I'm not sure anybody knows exactly what's going to happen," said Faris.

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