Despite the traffic and security, Charlotte remained a city where a visitor could easily score some grits and home brew.
“It’s been easy for me when I want to peel away from this security environment and go to a Charlotte restaurant and have grilled shrimp and grits and a beer or two,” said Chuck Plunkett, politics editor for the Denver Post.
“In Tampa, it was like a banana republic during a coup. The security was so overwhelming. Apparently the locals had the same kind of feeling … that we better shut down and get out and not come.” ... In Tampa, businesses complained that conventioneers rarely strayed outside the security zone. Of course, Charlotte, unlike Tampa, did not have a threatening tropical storm.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that the Charlotte experience was better.
“What was witnessed by reporters and delegates was a town where its residents were celebrating,” the newspaper reported. “What they found in Tampa was a city that felt desolate.”
Even Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat and member of the Florida delegation, acknowledged Charlotte was more lively.
Buckhorn said the city of Charlotte was designed in a way that encouraged more activity.
“Your downtown is very different than our downtown,” Buckhorn said. “It is very retail-oriented and pedestrian-friendly.”