TAMPA, Fla. — Gov. Mary Fallin helped kick off the first night of the Republican National Convention here Tuesday with an Oklahoma rags-to-riches story, while former Sen. Rick Santorum spoke to the social conservatives his campaign attracted and Ann Romney portrayed her husband as a man committed to lifting up others.
Fallin mocked President Barack Obama as someone who believes the government drives success while countering that Oklahomans made their own way, first by staking their claims on the prairie and then by poking holes in it to find oil.
Eight years after the Land Run, in 1897, “a handful of adventurous pioneers risked their own money — not the federal government's — to drill Oklahoma's first oil well, the Nellie Johnstone,” Fallin said.
“By doing so, these early-day pioneers changed the future and the fortune of Oklahoma forever, and today Oklahoma is one of the nation's key energy producers and job creators. President Obama wants us to believe that Oklahomans owe that success to the federal government — to the Department of Energy, to the EPA, the IRS or maybe even to him.”
Fallin's speech at the Tampa Bay Times Forum came just a couple of hours after delegates here officially nominated Mitt Romney for president and Rep. Paul Ryan for vice president.
The governor announced Oklahoma's delegate votes with remarks touting the state's low support for Obama and low unemployment rate. As Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett did here earlier, the governor also mentioned Janna Little Ryan, the Oklahoman married to Paul Ryan.
Not all of the state's delegate votes were counted Tuesday, as two supporters of Rep. Ron Paul's unsuccessful presidential campaign tried to vote for him even though they were committed to Romney. Their votes were not counted; another delegate was absent. Fallin cast 34 of the state's votes for Romney and six for Paul.
Harold Hamm's story
In her speech later, Fallin described the hardscrabble upbringing of Harold Hamm, who built an oil company now valued at over $13 billion. Hamm, Romney's energy adviser, is chairman and CEO of Continental Resources in Oklahoma City.