TAMPA, Fla., — Nansen Malin had every intention to attend the Republican National Convention this week, sharing views with her half-million Twitter followers on a pass arranged through the party and Mitt Romney’s campaign.
But something more important came up.
As Romney officially accepted the Republican embrace and as the party marshals social media and every other means to build a case why he should be elected president, Malin was on a cross-country family mission.
Malin’s daughter, who is in Navy intelligence, is preparing to deploy. Her son-in-law, who serves in the U.S. Marines, is expected to return from deployment in Afghanistan. So Malin is driving with her daughter from Virginia to San Diego in hopes the couple can unite, if only temporarily.
Because her daughter is in a sensitive job, Malin demurs on providing further details. But in an interview a day before departing, she left no doubt of her priorities.
“My daughter needs to be there to see him before she leaves, and that is more important than Romney and the Republican National Convention or anything else because of what these kids put up with,” Malin said. “They’ve been married two years and they have seen each other for three months.”
Twittering the convention would have been yet another milestone for Malin, 58, who boasts an astounding 497,282 followers as of Tuesday. That she commands her audience from a restored beach house in Seaview, Wash., adds to her renown.
“As long as you have DSL and FedEx you can live anywhere,” said Malin, who grew up in rural Oregon and returned to the Pacific Northwest years later. “It was like salmon returning home.”
Malin was a Democrat and a community organizer who studied at the Saul Alinsky Institute. She said her politics shifted after she opened a wholesale manufacturing business and began having to sign paychecks.
Her commentaries — she blogged and was an early adopter of Twitter in 2007 — caught broad attention when she was written up after the 2008 elections as one of the top conservatives on the network. She began getting invited to tweet at Republican events, including the election of Michael Steele to become the GOP national committee chairman in 2009.
In Tampa, Malin, now a recognized expert on social media, would have driven Twitter traffic for the Republicans and for Romney. On the road, she will follow the convention as best she can.
“While I drive across the country I will have my iPad,” Malin said. “I have my CSPAN app. I have my iPhone. I will listen to the convention. While we’re driving, people will send me suggestions, they will send me tips.”
Follow her on twitter at https://twitter.com/nansen