Intel, the multinational semiconductor chip firm based in Silicon Valley, has spent $1.7 million already this year on lobbying in the Senate and House in favor of lowering the corporate tax rate and backing the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and for removing caps on foreign workers' visas.
"The policy debates that go on are really important to American businesses," Intel spokeswoman Lisa Malloy said. "These are important issues and they really impact our business and we really wanted to be in the middle of it."
British-based Diageo, owner of Captain Morgan rum and other liquor items, spent $1.07 million this year lobbying — partly to keep in place tax breaks for spirits shipped to the U.S. from the U.S. Virgin Islands. And Coca-Cola has spent more than $2.8 million in lobbying this year, pressing for soft drinks to be kept at school cafeterias and to lower corporate tax rates, and opposing laws that would tax beverages to pay for waste water treatment.
A Coca Cola spokeswoman, Nancy Carlson Bailey, said the firm's role was "primarily focused on supporting the respective host committees."
Elsewhere at the convention, the Arkansas GOP delegation was feted to a welcome dinner at a renowned Cuban restaurant in nearby Ybor City. Former Arkansas governor and presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee stopped by, as did representatives of retail giant Wal-Mart, headquartered in the state. Chevron was behind a Mississippi delegation event Monday, where members of Congress and former Gov. Haley Barbour made appearances.
Tropical Storm Isaac, which led Republicans to cancel their Monday convention session, prompted changes in some events but not others. Tuesday's planned panel discussion on "The Millennial Impact on the Youth Vote" was cancelled while a related cocktail reception went on as planned.
Since touching down in Tampa, Wisconsin delegate Jeff Johns has had a full plate of social events. There have been country club luncheons, a welcome event organized by the convention host committee and gatherings featuring prominent officials and staged by companies with hometown connections like Miller-Coors.
"All the VIPS are in the room. You get to mingle with them," Johns said Monday. "Here it's like going out with your college friends to a tavern — except there's a lot of free Miller beer."
Bakst reported from Tampa, and Gillum and Braun from Washington.
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