Throughout the year, political pundits have obsessed over delegates, the people who come to the Republican National Convention from every state to vote for their party’s nominee. Before the convention, they were faceless numbers—prizes to be won in primaries. In Tampa, they’ve proven to be a diverse and enthusiastic cast of characters, coming from a wide variety of occupations and age groups.
We asked each one to tell us about the most vital issues at stake in this year’s election. Most are obsessed with the economy. Some are fixated on the country’s “moral decline.” And a rare few sport wardrobes worthy of the theater (or at least Halloween). Most delegates support Mitt Romney, but there are exceptions holding on to Ron Paul.
Photographer Grant Cornett roamed the convention center in Tampa, capturing members of each delegation. His portraits reveal a cross section of the people who make up the Grand Old Party of 2012.
Katy Steinmetz is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau. In addition to working on features for TIME and TIME.com, she contributes to TIME’s Swampland, Healthland and NewsFeed blogs.