Georgia delegates ready to hear from Romney

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Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan pauses during his national address Wednesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
TAMPA, Fla. —

Georgians at the Republican National Convention started their final day in Tampa, Fla., by sharing breakfast with one of the party's biggest leaders.

Speaker of the House John Boehner addressed the delegates and state leaders at their hotel Thursday morning -- a symbol of how important Georgia is to the Romney campaign, officials said.

Channel 2's Lori Geary and photographer Tracy Reeves were the only television crew to attend the event, where Boehner addressed the presidential election.

"The only way he can win is if he makes Mitt Romney look like Satan, for goodness sakes. So if you think the campaign has been bad so far and ugly, I think, hold on. I think the next 70 days are going to be quite a ride," Boehner told the delegates.

Pollster John Garst, who is also a delegate, told Channel 2's Justin Farmer that the Georgia Republican base is fired up.

"What we've been seeing, not only from people in the delegation but in our polling as well, Republicans are specifically unified against this president. Republicans want absolutely nothing to do with him, and people that consider themselves conservative, people that consider themselves Republican, are literally going to vote in droves against the President," he said.

Garst said his polling shows Mitt Romney ahead of President Barack Obama by as much as 11 points in Georgia, and he's expecting a bump after the convention. Democrats may get a bump after their convention but not as big, Garst told Farmer.

"There's fatigue. Voters are sour. Unemployment is high, the economy is not great. People are hurting. They're out there looking for jobs, and in that kind of climate, definitely, the challenger benefits," Garst said.

Romney's speech on Thursday night will be a chance to reintroduce himself to the nation. He hinted at his speech themes in a morning fundraising appeal emailed to supporters, and aides said the convention's final night would fill out a portrait of the GOP nominee as a successful businessman, fix-it guy for the 2002 Olympics and trustworthy candidate devoted to his family and faith.

Work crews spent the day rebuilding the stage, removing the podium and extending the platform several feet. Delegations in the prime center area have had their seats relocated.

Catherine Bernard is a Georgia delegate who is eager for Romney's speech. She voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but plans to vote Republican this year.

"I became a Republican after I began working as a public defender and realized that the policies that I thought were helping poor people, they weren't actually helping poor people," she told Farmer. "I think a lot of us believed in his message of hope and change, but there has not been the change we need to see."

Channel 2 Action News will be inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum for Romney's speech Thursday night. Stay with Channel 2 Action News and WSBTV.com for continuing coverage of the Republican National Convention.

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