TAMPA, Fla. - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker urged Minnesotans attending the Republican National Convention Tuesday to help convert their state from blue to red on the political map.
And they can start this fall, Walker said, by helping former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney win the presidency.
"This is someone who is prepared to be the president," Walker said. And by choosing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Walker added, Romney showed "he has the courage, commitment and passion to be president."
Walker said Romney has demonstrated his leadership capabilities as a corporate executive, helping to rescue failing companies. That experience is what's needed, he said, to revive the economy and put unemployed Americans back to work.
"There are people working today who would not be if Mitt Romney had not turned those companies around," Walker said.
But as a surrogate for the Romney-Ryan ticket, the Wisconsin governor was in enemy territory at the Minnesota delegation's breakfast, sponsored by 3M. Of the 40 delegates to the convention, 33 are supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who battled Romney for the Republican presidential nomination before dropping out in May.
Many of the Paul supporters are upset about how the Romney campaign and Republican National Committee convention planners have treated Paul, a libertarian. They also are peeved over proposed rule changes they say are aimed at undermining Paul's liberty movement. One of the changes, Paul delegates complained, would usurp the authority of state parties to set their own primary and delegate-selection criteria.
"Even non-Ron Paul delegates and (Minnesota Republican) party officials recognize the significance of the RNC actions goes beyond its direct effect on Liberty Republicans," said Marianne Stebbins, chairwoman of the Minnesota delegation, in a statement Sunday. "It's pure and simple a power grab by Romney forces."
There was no response from the RNC to a request for comment.
Still, the delegates gave Walker a cordial reception. Some even posed for pictures with the governor, clad in jeans and a T-shirt for a house-building event later.
"We enjoyed his remarks," Stebbins said. "He had some good statements there."
Ben Barringer, a delegate from Elk River, was unimpressed.
"I've been to a number of Scott Walker speeches," Barringer said. "I'm familiar with what he has to say, so it didn't really strike me one way or the other."
Postponed for a day because of the threat of Hurricane Isaac, the convention officially opened Tuesday. During the roll call of states, Romney secured the nomination as states announced their delegate votes. Romney needed 1,144 votes from the 2,286 convention delegates to clinch the nomination. He is expected to give his acceptance speech Thursday.
When Minnesota's turn came, Stebbins jabbed the RNC.
"Minnesota," Stebbins said, "where we are very proud of our state Republican Party, which runs a fair convention with integrity, casts 33 votes for Ron Paul, one vote for Sen. (Rick) Santorum and six votes for Gov. Romney."
(Copyright 2012 by USA Today. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )