How Do Republican Delegates Define Success?

Throughout this election, both Republicans and Democrats have focused on a common theme: a successful America. But that vision seems to be different for each party. Host Michel Martin hears from delegates and others at the Republican National Convention about what success for America means to them.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we get a preview of the Democratic National Convention that's being held in Charlotte, North Carolina. We'll talk to that city's mayor, Anthony Fox, in just a few minutes.

But first, how about one more word from the Republican National Convention, which just wrapped up last night in Tampa? Mitt Romney accepted his party's nomination and sent his delegates on their way to carry his message around the country. And if you followed the convention at all, then you know that Mitt Romney's supporters talked a lot about success and what that means. We expect President Obama and his supporters will do likewise, so that's a question we've been asking our guests throughout the week also.

So before we let you go, here are a few more delegates and others at the convention with their thoughts about it. Here they are.

SANTOS GARZA: My name is Santos Garza(ph) and I'm from Idaho. We're in an electrifying event, to me, to elect and to get President Romney started on his campaign trail.

JIM MARTIN: Jim Martin(ph). I'm chairman of the 60 Plus Association. We are a senior citizen group with about seven million activists around the country. We make it very clear that we are for limited government, less taxes, a conservative approach, if you will. We're very clear about that.

BESA MARTIN: Besa Martin(ph). I'm from Bernie, Texas. We've come to the Republican National Convention to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for presidential and vice presidential slots in the United States government.

PEPPER DOMBROSKI: Pepper Dombroski(ph) in Maui, Hawaii. We did have the longest trip, but well worth it. It's fun to be here.

MARTIN: We asked what brought them to the convention and what America's journey to a more successful future would look like.

MARTIN: A successful America includes a very thriving economy where people have the liberty to make choices, where they can go into different areas and make livings and make choices that they want to live with, and really what I'm thinking about is that there's a lot of Americans today that they feel like they don't have any opportunity and I think a big reason that they don't have the opportunity is all the bureaucracy that's in place and all the rules and just all the impediments that have been put in place.

MARTIN: Oh, gee, a shining city on a hill, going back to Ronald Reagan days, perhaps. Since I am a senior, I sometimes like to reminisce, but those were wonderful, glorious days. Speaking about Ronald Reagan, I think we can get back toward that shining hill with President Romney and Vice President Ryan.

DOMBROSKI: Land of opportunity. I think that's what America's always stood for. That's what I want for my children - is really the harder you work, the more that you benefit and then can turn around and benefit your community.

GARZA: Successful America is the small businessman, and I'm glad that they've focused on that myself. You know, my parents - you know, we've forgotten and gotten away with - you know, gotten away from that message, that - who built America.

MARTIN: We also asked Santos Garza, Jim Martin and Pepper Dombroski how their own life experiences have informed their political views and their personal vision of what a successful America looks like.

GARZA: My politics were formulated in high school. I couldn't help it. Our state representative lived down the street and I hung around with his daughter, and that's where I learned, you know, Republican - what the difference between Republican, Democrat. My father - I was born in Mexico and he made sure we became U.S. citizens so that we could vote, for that privilege.

MARTIN: Oh, probably growing up as a young fellow who worked hard all of his life. In fact, I worked my way through college and I served overseas a lot. I saw other countries and I saw what went on in Jakarta, Indonesia, where I lived for about three years as a Marine security guard. And the anguish, the poverty that some of those countries face - you come back to this country, you see why people come here, and the fact is the last four years with what's gone on in this country, I was - as a conservative, I was very impressed with candidate Barack Obama and what he offered, hope and change. Honestly was. I was not for his election. I'm a hardcore conservative first, Republican.

But when he was elected, with a sigh of relief I said now we have this young black president - that fulfills another myth to this country - or shatters another myth, that we can't elect a black person. But then I was not - I guess I was, as many people were, disappointed in his record, quite frankly.

DOMBROSKI: I was the first person in my family to receive a college education, and I saw, really, where that's been able to benefit me throughout my work career, and then I could see that very value, that the harder I work and the more I dedicate myself to the things that I'm interested in and apply myself - whether that's to - you know, along with my family, you know, work, community, then the bigger payoff that you get. And that's why I feel like I identify with the Republican Party, because they have that same philosophy.

MARTIN: We asked Santos Garza what she says to other Latinos and those in her family from Mexico who say that the Republican Party has not done enough to reach out to them.

GARZA: It's been difficult, you know, but once you invite them - and I'd forgotten, maybe that's part of the culture, inviting them to come in and simplifying the dialogue and saying look, this is who we are. And they have no idea, honestly. They are ashamed that they didn't know the difference between Democrat, Republican because they all don't, you know, they don't want a hand out. And I tell them well then, you're Republican. Less government, you know, you do it yourself. And that's when they decide. And so I brushed up on my Spanish, political Spanish so that I could talk more, and I am so energized that I am just going to go back and we have a radio station and I am going to make sure I get on those Spanish radio station. So I'm excited to get that started.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: So as the Republican convention has officially wrapped and delegates like Santos Garza are headed back to their states to campaign, Pepper Dombrowski and Besa Martin say they are certain their party's message will resonate with voters like them.

MARTIN: The plans that they have for Medicare and for the entitlements, it's not cutting off what people have now; it's planning for the future. And my generation, I'm, you know I'm younger than 54 so this is going to impact me. And I would rather have a system that works where we would have some type of Medicare in the future instead of just bankrupting it. And I've got daughters and I'm looking at this debt climbing up, an economy that's not growing and so, you know, my daughters will be burdened with that and I don't think that's right.

PEPPER DOMBROWSKI: Well, I'm really keyed in on the economic issues. I really, I have a 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son and I feel like the decisions that we make now is what's going to affect them 10 and 15 years from now. So I look at it from my children's eyes and I really hope that we'll have a message of economic opportunity, that they'll be able to go out and start businesses on their own if that's what they desire, go to college without having to get in debt to the point where it's discouraging, they'll have jobs available and waiting for him, that's the message I'm looking for.

MARTIN: Those were the voices of Pepper Dombrowski, Besa Martin, Jim Marin and Santos Garza from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

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