TAMPA, Fla. -- If the Virginia delegation is seated in the front row of the Republican National Convention, then Jim Gilmore is practically sitting on the stage.
The former Republican governor is attending his sixth convention this week and has a prime spot to take it all in. But he also knows that the campaign doesn't end with the convention and newly anointed nominee Mitt Romney must still convince the American people he's the right man for the job.
"What Gov. Romney needs to do is explain that the economic information and data that he has and knows has real world consequences to regular people," Gilmore said from the convention floor before the pageantry began. "He still needs to explain to people how this all relates to real life, and I think he's going to do that."
But Gilmore said he believes the Romney-Paul Ryan team could be formidable opponents for President Obama.
"He's picked a man of substance and they're trying to talk about the issues," Gilmore said. "The opposition is really trying to take him off of that."
Gilmore, Virginia's governor from 1998 to 2002, flirted with national politics and he was briefly Romney's opponent in the 2008 Republican presidential primary before dropping out to run for the U.S. Senate. He lost that race to current Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.
Of the conventions he's been to, Gilmore said this year's event is the best organized.
"I frankly love having the convention in Tampa," he said.