TAMPA, Fla. - The most talked-about-party of Monday night at the Republican National Convention was co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Realtors Association and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
Held at the Florida Aquarium, it was one of the first big events not affected by Tropical Storm Isaac, which forced the GOP to cancel Monday's proceedings.
Inside the venue, there were ice luges, a raw bar, boutique liquors and hand-cut cigars. Tropical fish and sharks glided through truck-sized tunnels around a few hundred guests. For those who worked in Washington, the swanky top-shelf amenities likely came as little surprise -- the D.C.-based U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Distilled Spirits Council are known for throwing some of the best receptions in town.
But over the course of a half-dozen conversations The Huffington Post had with guests, not one said the reason they were fired up was GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Over and over, Republican staffers, lobbyists and delegates discussed everything from tight congressional races to potential Supreme Court picks in the next few years to President Barack Obama's economic policies as some of the reasons they were excited about the GOP in the 2012 election.
When it came to their feelings about the president, there was little evidence of the vitriolic tone present in some of the conservative base. Instead, they seemed to feel that the country had just made an honest mistake in electing Obama.
One Massachusetts delegate said he believed 2012 election year polling didn't take into account how many people were reluctant to tell pollsters they did not support Obama, for fear of appearing racist against the nation's first African American president.
Another guest, a lobbyist and former judge, said he believed that the president was a "socialist" who just didn't know it yet.
Through it all, no one mentioned Romney.
Among this particular slice of the "professional right" -- lobbyists, GOP political strategists, delegates and pundits -- it was clear that Romney wasn't a guy they wanted to talk about.
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