The Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention can inspire people watching the speeches from home. But the people most moved are likely to be those sitting in the convention hall: the party loyalists and campaign volunteers who get to see more than just the politicos who headline the conventions.
A few Howard County Republicans were among the thousands who flocked to Tampa for the RNC, held Aug. 27-30, and a few county Democrats traveled to Charlotte for the DNC, held Sept. 4- 6.
Those interviewed treasured the experience.
"Being part of history is very exciting .... regardless of which party you're in," said Fulton Republican Greg Fox, a Howard County Council member who served as a RNC delegate.
Columbia Democrat Mary Marker said it was honor to be a DNC delegate, and she enjoyed the convention programming and speakers.
"It was also just wonderful connecting with people from all over the country that have the same focus and, in particular for me, people who are part of the grass roots efforts," she said.
Fox, who was attending a convention for the first time, said he had many favorite moments.
"Each morning we had various speakers for breakfast ... for our breakfast speakers, it was probably (Wisconsin) Gov. Scott Walker," he said.
Fox's favorite speaker on the convention floor was New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.
"She was outstanding," he said, noting her speech could be the most convincing for undecided voters.
Of the DNC convention speakers, Columbia Democrat Guy Guzzone, who was attending his third convention but his first as a delegate, said he enjoyed First Lady Michelle Obama's speech the most.
"She was just great, with (former President Bill) Clinton being right there," Guzzone said. "Both of them, in obviously very different ways, really made the case for the president as both a person and as a leader and as somebody with the right vision to move us forward."
Off the convention floor, Guzzone said "one of the more poignant moments" was a luncheon he attended the first day of the convention honoring the late Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps.
"The people who spoke, particularly (his son) Mark, just really sort of drove home for me why I got into this business, just the need to continuously do good and think of ways to make things better for people, particularly those who need a helping hand," Guzzone, a state delegate in the Maryland General Assembly, said.
Romney speech praised
Elkridge Republican O.P. Ditch also attended his third convention, but Tampa was his first with the Maryland delegation.
Ditch, who moved to Howard County from Virginia about two years ago, said he had a "great time ... just being in the hall with all those Republicans, people who think like I do."
Though the convention "started kind of slow," Ditch said it built up to Romney's speech, which he called the best he's ever heard from the former Massachusetts governor.
He also enjoyed Anne Romney's speech, noting the Republican presidential candidate's wife "really put a stamp on his personality."
Marker, who said Charlotte was her first convention, said she enjoyed all the Democrats who spoke during prime time, including President Obama, his wife, Vice President Joe Biden and Clinton.
"You can't really pick a favorite from that line-up," she said.
The head of the Obama campaign in Howard County, Marker said she enjoyed talking to other volunteers and grass roots organizers, discussing things they could do differently when returning to their home counties.
"I couldn't wait to get back (to Howard County) and back to our office here," she said, noting she flew home on Sept. 7 and went into the office that afternoon.
While the convention was "exhilarating," Marker said it also was exhausting. The three days were packed full of activities, starting with delegation breakfasts early in the morning and ending with the convention speakers in the arena late at night.
Fox had similar thoughts about the RNC schedule. He said most days he was busy from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. the next day.
Both Fox and Marker said they didn't sleep much.
Others from Howard who attended the RNC include state Sen. Allan Kittleman, of West Friendship, Brian Harlin, of Ellicott City, Howard County GOP Chairwoman Loretta Shields, of Dayton, Howard GOP Vice Chairman Dave Myers, of Ellicott City, and Louis and Joyce Pope, of Fulton.
DNC attendees from Howard included County Council member Calvin Ball, of Columbia, Mitch Case, of Ellicott City, Angela Lagdameo, of Ellicott City, Amanda Elizabeth Pleasant, of Ellicott City, Lucinda Ware, of Columbia, Howard County Democratic Central Committee member Clarence Lam, of Columbia; Anwer Hasan, of Clarksville, and County Executive Ken Ulman, of Columbia.