ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
Florida’s Innisbrook Resort features championship golf courses, swimming pools, restaurants, a lavish spa and fitness center. Not only that, it’s far removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown Tampa.
Only problem for the Florida and South Carolina delegations attending this summer’s Republican National Convention is exactly how far it is from Tampa — the city that will play host to the mega-GOP gathering, which takes place from Aug. 27 through Aug. 30.
Each day of the convention these two large delegations will have to travel 30 miles, or nearly 45 minutes, to reach downtown. One member of the South Carolina delegation who will be staying at the resort called it the political equivalent of “Siberia.”
But James Davis, a spokesman for the Republican National Convention, insisted in an interview with ABC News that the far-off hotel assignments were not a punishment for Florida’s decision to leapfrog ahead on the primary calendar, forcing other states (like South Carolina) to follow suit.
“No one was penalized,” Davis said. “We have a couple of large delegations. We try not to split up delegations when making hotel assignments.”
But it’s obvious some politics were at play here.
The delegates from two states that presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney calls home — Massachusetts and Michigan — received hotel rooms right next door to the convention venues. Massachusetts delegates will rest their heads at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina while Michiganders bunk at the Embassy Suites Tampa-Downtown Convention Center.
Delegates from Wisconsin, the home state of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, also got excellent digs — the Hyatt Regency Tampa.
“I’m pissed off,” Florida Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry told The Tampa Bay Times’ Adam C. Smith. “We’re one of the most important swing states, if not the most important swing state, and our activists and our donors are going to be punished for something they had nothing to do with.”
But at least one South Carolina Republican was taking the accommodations in stride, in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way.
“We look forward to the excellent golf and spa,” he said of the Innisbrook Resort
In all, according to GOP Convention organizers, 106 hotels scattered around the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, will play host to 56 state delegations as well as more than 15,000 members of the media and guests. Davis and convention officials have the herculean task of doling out all of those 16,000-plus rooms.
“Wherever you’re staying, you’re going to have a great experience,” convention Chief Executive Officer William Harris assured in a statement.