TAMPA - The leader of West Virginia's delegation to the National Republican Convention believes the group is making an impact.
The 31 delegates from West Virginia are wearing hardhats to denote support for coal as part of a national energy policy and the Obama administration's mining policies.
"Everyone is wearing them," Bill Maloney said Wednesday.
West Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney, at right, with his wife, Sharon, as well as state Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, at left, and the West Virginia delegation at the National Republican Convention in Tampa, Fla., this week announce all of West Virginia’s 31 votes were going to Mitt Romney to be the Republican Party candidate for president of the United States.
Maloney, the Republican nominee for governor of West Virginia, on Tuesday cast the entire state's delegates to GOP nominee Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. The difference in energy policies between Romney and President Obama is apparent where Romney is more inclined toward job creation, mining and reigning in the Environmental Protection Agency than President Obama, he said.
The president's campaign has issued releases saying Romney has changed his position on coal, once condemning coal-fired plants because they kill people after he became governor of Massachusetts.
"I don't know what he may have said 10 years ago," Maloney said. "I know what he's talking about now."
Maloney Wednesday met with the delegation from Wyoming, which shares many of the same energy and environmental issues with West Virginia. Both states have enough resources available to power the nation, he said.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead spoke with the West Virginia delegation and congratulated them on the idea of wearing the hats, wishing they had thought of it.
''Problems people think are just confined to our area are shared across the country,'' Delegate Bob Fish said.
In the meantime the popularity of the hardhats is growing, Maloney said.
State Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, said many people are wearing stickers on their hardhats that say "Friends of Coal" and others in support of coal.
Luke Russert, son of the late NBC political correspondent Tim Russert, interviewed members of the West Virginia group about the hats.
''I have to thank whoever came up with this,'' Boley said. ''It is a good idea that has brought a lot of attention.''
The hats have allowed West Virginia to talk about the issue of energy from coal and the trouble the industry has faced under the current administration.
''There is definitely a lot of interest in the hats,'' Boley said.
The Huffington Post ran a photograph of Fish of Parkersburg, a member of the West Virginia delegation to the convention, holding his hat over his heart during the pledge of allegiance.
Fish said speeches Tuesday night from Ann Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were "electrifying" with Mrs. Romney talking personally about her husband and Christie talking about the need to solve problems and not shirk the responsibility.
''They were both so exciting,'' he said. ''They were continually interrupted with applause.
''The ideas being presented are really resonating with people.''
Boley was impressed with Mrs. Romney and her ability to talk to the crowd about what her husband was about.
Other speeches from Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sarasota Springs Mayor Mia Love were also well received with many giving Love particular praise.
''Many people were saying a star is born,'' Fish said of Love. ''Her message really resonated with people.''
The West Virginia delegation took a moment of silence Wednesday to honor the West Virginia state trooper who was shot and killed in Clay County as well as pray for the trooper who was shot as well as others injured in the incident.
The delegation was looking forward to speeches Wednesday night from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the acceptance speech by Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
Fish said talk is going around the convention floor about who the "surprise guest" speaker might be tonight. A block of time is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. for "Remarks to be Announced," he added.
''Right now we have no idea on who it could be,'' Fish said. ''I have asked around, but no one knows.''