Thompson mingles with supporters at RNC

Tommy Thompson running for U.S. Senate

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson is in Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention, and he hosted a party Wednesday to mingle with delegates and gain support for his U.S. Senate campaign.

Thompson hosted delegates and GOP dignitaries like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker aboard a yacht.

“Personally, I love people, so it’s a pretty good opportunity for me to reconnect,” Thompson said. “It’s sort of a celebratory kind of party with people here knowing that we’re going to have the opportunity to win a Senate seat.”

No stranger to the action of the convention floor, the 70-year-old patriarch of the Wisconsin GOP recalled conventions of days gone by.

“It’s not as dramatic as when you have a convention fight, but the truth of the matter is this one is different in that it’s more upbeat. The future of our country is at stake,” Thompson said.

Thompson shook hands and mingled with supporters, he said he expects Paul Ryan’s speech at the convention Wednesday night to help Mitt Romney into the White House this November.

“We’re talking to the jury out there, and this is a closing argument for Paul Ryan, an introductory and a closing argument, all in one speech,” Thompson said.

Thompson seeks to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl. Thompson’s opponent, Tammy Baldwin, will have a speaking role next week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Ryan and his wife, Janna, stopped by the Wisconsin tribute party earlier on Wednesday to thank delegates for their support.

“We’re doing these rallies all across the country, and people are coming out of the woodwork with their cheeseheads on all over America. It really is a story of cheesehead domination,” Ryan said.

Delegates, including Walker, said the personal touch is important.

“I think back home in Janesville and across Wisconsin, there are people, even across political lines, there are people that feel not just proud but that one of our own has a real shot at being one of the most important people in the entire world,” Walker said.

“It’s so moving. It’s really hard to describe, because I worked Paul’s first campaign in 1998, and I just remember some of us just saying to each other, ‘That guy is going places.’ Because he’s everything you see. Anyone who sits at home wondering, ‘Is he really that nice of a guy?’ He is,” said Dona Poelman, of Racine County.

In excerpts of Ryan’s speech released early by the campaign, Ryan will say, “I accept the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us, with opportunity for the young and security for the old — and I know that we are ready.”