Republican National Convention: High-tech meets Republican leadership

Republican National Convention: High-tech meets Republican leadership

Tampa -- With the Republican National Convention in high gear in Tampa this week to nominate Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential candidate, the high-tech industry yesterday arranged a meet-and-greet reception for top Republican leaders whose job is to try and drive party votes on legislation.

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Coordinated under an effort called "Innovation Nation," the high-tech industry's trade associations, along with companies such as Microsoft and Facebook, organized a reception for the House Republican Whip team, the group led by House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whose job is to drum up votes when bills come to the fore in Congress. At the reception, held in a large tented pavilion next to the main RNC locale, Facebook's top public policy director, Joel Kaplan, offered praise to the Republican leadership.

Kaplan, vice president of U.S. public policy at Facebook, said many high-tech firms begin small, just as Facebook did, but manage to become significant because they have "the freedom to innovate." He praised Rep. McCarthy's leadership to help Silicon Valley, and called him "a great friend to our industry."

For his part, Rep. McCarthy took to the mike to say it's "freedom and liberty that's kept us strong" and that he has confidence in the ability of California to excel, and that he also believes "freedom of regulation" will benefit that.

Separately, when asked what legislation introduced in Congress has raised concern in the past at Facebook, Kaplan cited both the "Stop Online Piracy Act" and the "Protect IP Act" (PIPA) because these bills could potentially "stifle innovation."

The "Innovation Nation" reception yesterday was hosted by a plethora of high-tech trade associations, including TechNet, TechAmerica, Business Software Alliance, Consumer Electronics Association, Computer & Communications Industry Association; Computing Technology Industry Association; North Carolina Technology Association, and the Telecommunications Industry Association.

The "Innovation Nation" bash was not a lavish affair in the pavilion, and food featured chips, salsa and roll-your-own burritos. As the pavilion's air-conditioning failed on this steamy Tampa afternoon, many attending were probably wishing they'd seen some innovation on that score, too.

With the political season now in high gear, the "Innovation Nation" organizers are not stopping with meeting up with Republicans. The same group also plans to make their way to Charlotte, N.C., to hold a similar event at the Democratic National Convention.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail:

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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