Miami's Romney Supporters Chugging $10 Drinks, Confident Mitt Will Pull Off Florida UPDATED
Confidence is high at Romney's Miami party
photo by Jon Tayler
Inside a packed conference room at the Doubletree by Hilton near the airport, Ben Powell, chairman of Miami-Dade Republican Party, leaned into his mic and bellowed, "Are y'all ready for victory?" The crowd of about 200 Romney supporters let out a boisterous cheer.
Even as returns are showing Obama clinging to a razor-thin edge in the Sunshine State -- a battleground Mitt Romney must win to have any shot at the White House -- his supporters are, for the moment, happily buying $10 drinks and still believing.
Update: As Fox News called the race for Obama, the room went dead silent. Powell called the result "sad and devastating."
"We're very confident," said Lillian Portuondo, an older Cuban emigre who arrived in Miami in 1960 and has been volunteering for Romney.
With her friend, Gloria Fisher, the pair belted out the Star Spangled Banner with the enthusiastic crowd and lustily cheered every early return shown on Fox News, which is projected onto two large screens at the front of the room.
A cheer goes up with a Fox News update.
photo by Jon Tayler
NPC Southern States Bikini, Figure, Men's Physique
TicketsFri., Jul. 7, 6:00pm
NPC Southern States Bodybuilding Championships vs. NPC Southern States Fitness & Figure Championships
TicketsSat., Jul. 8, 6:00pm
Florida Launch vs. Chesapeake Bayhawks
TicketsSat., Jul. 15, 7:00pm
Florida Launch vs. Charlotte Hounds
TicketsSat., Jul. 22, 7:00pm
"I've been praying like crazy, "Fisher said.
"Every day we pray for this election," Lillian adds.
It's still way too early to tell how Florida will swing, but everyone in this room knows Mitt needs the state's 29 electoral votes to stand a chance of unseating Obama.
At the moment, with 6.5 million ballots counted in Florida, the president is clinging to a tiny 5,000 vote lead.
We'll keep updating from Romney's Dade party -- where, thanks to the cash bar, a party vibe really is setting in -- as the night rolls on.
Update: The room went dead silent. They'd just called North Carolina five minutes before. They were energized. Then boom, they didn't even announce Iowa. The moment the Fox talking heads stopped talking.
Ohio and the race is over. Silence. Some people groaned. Some guy yelled something incoherent.
Marcus Sendon -- "We're disappointed it's not what we wanted. You can spec from here to eternity but a result is a result."
MD, Powell, came on "I know this is sad and not what we expected."
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart came on. "This is a sad night for me. It's an honor to be among great American patriots like you."
Most people were leaving. There were 150 people or so when they called it for Ohio. Right now around 100.
People are just milling, TV crews around. NBC6 and a couple TV crews. Most people milling either work for campaign or are volunteers. No one looks that despondent.
Update: A few minutes after 11 p.m., Fox News called North Carolina for Romney and the ballroom -- still full of a lively 150 or so Romney supporters -- erupted in cheers and chants.
But the mood ebbed as Fox News' anchors grew visibly less excited. Then, suddenly, they called it: Ohio had gone for Obama, and so the nation.
Silence gripped the room. A few groans and one man yelling something incoherent were the only sounds. Soon, Powell grabbed the mic again. "I know this is sad and devastating and not what we expected," he told the crowd.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, the highest profile Republican in the room, also consoled the crowd. "This is a sad night for me," he said. "It's an honor to be among great American patriots like you."
As the crowd shuffled out, local Tea Party leader Marcus Sendon said he was stunned and still dealing with the loss.
"We're disappointed. It's not what we wanted," he said. "You can spec from here to eternity, but a result is a result."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Miami, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.