Aug. 30, 2012 --
With eyes toward center stage at this year's Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, candidates, elected officials and party delegates representing the GOP are taking in the spectacle of the convention, all leading up to former Gov. Mitt Romney formally accepting the party's nomination to run for president. While everyone in attendance, as well as the media, are keeping their attention on who's behind the podium, off-stage there is another world outside the spotlight and on the fringe. Take a look at some convention color you won't find on the front page of the political section of your newspaper.
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The city of Tampa is rolling out the red carpet to welcome this year's convention attendees. Sand sculptor Meredith Corson of Treasure Island, Fla., put together this beach-side replica of the White House. In an effort to stay bipartisan, Corson and her colleague left the door of the presidential mansion open "because we don't know yet who will occupy the house come January," she told the Tampa Bay Times. Corson and her partner also sculpted the Lincoln Memorial. The two sculptures combined required some 40 tons of sand.
For GOPers looking to show their support, sometimes a sign or a T-shirt just doesn't cut it. Delegate Natalie Lavering painted her fingernails, alternating between red and blue, with white lettering reading, "Mitt Romney." Lavering also painted her toenails to read "Paul Ryan."
Painted nails can chip away, but jewelry lasts forever. Michigan delegate Linda Lee Tarver displays a ring she's wearing to the RNC.
If you're a Republican and also a Wisconsin resident, there's no clearer way to show it than wearing a campaign button on a cheesehead hat. Sol Grosskopf likely had no trouble finding his seat with the other delegates of his state with this headgear.
In anticipation of attendees looking for after-hours entertainment once all the speeches have been delivered and the balloons have fallen, Tampa-area night spots are doing what they can to cater to the convention crowd. Some venues take their marketing efforts a lot further than others. A Tampa strip club, The Dollhouse, hired adult film star Lisa Ann, who played a Sarah Palin look-alike in an X-rated movie, to perform for two nights ahead of the RNC.
In an effort to capitalize on the media attention that comes with the RNC, the Westboro Baptist Church does what they always do when the spotlight should be on someone else: They bring inflammatory signs to express their extreme beliefs. This time around, counter-protestors were ready for them. In this photo, two men embrace and kiss one another in full view of members of the church.
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Protestors outside Tampa Bay Times forum come in all shapes and sizes -- and in this case, clown makeup as well.
Protestors may show for a variety of causes, ranging from national security issues to foreign policy to social issues and more. In some cases, as with this protestor, it's less clear what they stand for.
You might not expect anarchists to show up for a convention, even if they aren't part of the crowd. But in this case, they turned up in larger numbers than you'd imagine for a group that disavows organization.