by LUCIE FREMEAU & KERRY KLECIC
TAMPA (FOX 13) - Nestled on the first floor of the Tampa Convention Center, in the midst of thousands of working media, is perhaps the wackiest part of this year's Republican National Convention.
Google has planted a "media lounge," a real-life Google+ hangout room that gives journalists a high-tech space to recharge, relax and report.
Throughout the Republican National Convention, more than 15,000 members of the media are calling the convention center home.
But the Google Media Center is an escape from the clicking keyboards and ticking deadlines.
"I love the interactivity and the ability to have wireless," Tara Wall, senior adviser to Mitt Romney's campaign, said after participating in a Google hangout. "I'm one of those creative people, so I work very well in a creative bubble like this. I definitely think it's the greatest thing they've put together here."
The room is what you'd expect from Google: Loud, trendy and bright.
An interactive political map, more than eight large-screen TVs, and numerous laptop charging stations provide the media with a getaway from the chaotic convention. Google even offers a "Cellierge," who act as "coat checks," only to take your cell phones and recharge them.
Retro bubble chairs adorned in Google's red, yellow, blue and green sit next to the Digital Center, where the convention's social media team updates and monitors Google+, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
"It's high time that social media changes everything," said surprise visitor Jennifer Carroll, Florida's lieutenant governor, who is replacing Gov. Rick Scott at the convention because of Hurricane Isaac.
She, too, took part in a Google+ Hangout.
"If we don't step up our game to communicate directly to our voters using social media like Google, Twitter, you name it, then we're probably missing our opportunity to get our message directly to the voters," she explained. "That's what it's about—having us deliver the message directly to the voter so that we're not defined by what they're hearing elsewhere."
There's also Google Bytes -- the lounge's free coffee shop, provided by Tampa's own Buddy Brew.
A short distance away, massage chairs.
"I want to camp out here and make this my office space," Wall added. "It's pretty cool. I love it."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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