TAMPA, Fla. -- Focus on Florida.

There's a reason we're here. In fact, 29 of them.

Florida will cast 29 electoral votes for president after the November election, and most analytical studies come to the conclusion that Mitt Romney must win this state to win the White House.

That's why Republicans are meeting here.

The other options were Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

The people who map out all of November's potential scenarios see other pathways to victory for President Barack Obama without Florida, but generally conclude that a Romney win is possible only with the Sunshine State included in his bag of states.

So here we are.

Two big demographics immediately come into play in Florida: retirement-age Americans and Hispanic Americans. Among the latter, Cubans always have been dependably Republican, largely because of the GOP's record of fierce opposition to Fidel Castro.

You don't have to venture far to be aware of the large Hispanic or Latino population.

Nebraska delegates need only cross the street from their Alden Beach hotel in St. Pete Beach to find a Cuban restaurant.

On Tuesday, they headed to lunch at the storied Columbia restaurant in the old Centro Ybor District of Tampa, courtesy of National Committeeman Pete Ricketts.

Ricketts, who will hand over the party post to fellow Omahan David Kramer at the conclusion of the convention this week, is looking ahead to more involvement with the newest family enterprise, the Chicago Cubs, as well as continued political activity.

Tuesday morning dawned warm and humid with cloudy skies and rolling surf. Viewed through the palm trees, it's a postcard sight.

And if you happened to drink too much caffeine before calling it a night Monday, you had an opportunity to see the moon burst brightly through the overcast sky at 3 a.m. and light up the water. A beautiful bonus, but once probably is enough.

With two cups of coffee in hand, Omaha attorney Brian Buescher was ready to help usher the party's national platform to approval by the convention during the day.

Buescher may be the next Republican state chairman, but that's a process yet to unfold.

In mid-July, he was positioned to succeed Mark Fahleson with the blessing of Gov. Dave Heineman.

But that all fell apart when the Nebraska Liberty Caucus decided to attempt to elect delegates pledged to support Ron Paul at the party's state convention and propose its own preferred candidate for state chairman despite the governor's wishes.

As a result, Fahleson withdrew his candidacy for national committeeman and decided to complete his term as state chairman, which will end next spring. The Paul uprising was controlled and Mitt Romney won all but two of Nebraska’s delegate slots.

"At the end of the day, I had the votes to win," Buescher said during an interview at a table outside a breakfast reception at the hotel playing host to the Nebraska delegation.

"But we needed to focus on the delegates and make sure Mitt Romney would get them."

Buescher said he "definitely will consider being a candidate for state chairman" next spring when Fahleson's term ends.

"But I want to consult with all the appropriate statewide elected officials first to make sure they have someone they want in that office."

If he's elected chairman, Buescher said, he wants to maximize support Republicans depend upon in their stronghold, the vast 3rd Congressional District.

"I would focus on our ground game," he said.

In a close contest, the 3rd District, which encompasses all of western and central Nebraska and slices of the east, can "tip the balance" for Republican candidates, Buescher said.

Buescher knows the territory. He grew up on a farm near Deweese -- southeast of Hastings -- and he is an agribusiness lawyer.

As a member of the national platform committee, he succeeded in adding a provision stating that the federal government should avoid unreasonable aerial surveillance of citizens. There's an exception for law enforcement.

That provision is a direct reaction to farm and ranch complaints about aerial surveillance conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Buescher said the platform adheres to conservative Republican principles.

"I'm not sure we took a move to the right," he said, "but we did a better job of communicating the ideas of the party."

Darlene Starman of Lincoln served on the committee with Buescher.

Nebraska’s delegates planned a dinner cruise later Tuesday honoring Gov. Dave Heineman.