The Republican National Convention is just one week away, with the Democrats taking the stage a week later. Beyond all the speeches though, what do delegates actually do at these things anyway? They say, plenty.
When John McCain got the 2008 Republican presidential nod, Allentown school board president Robert Smith was watching -- from the sidelines.
"New York, I was elected as an alternate delegate," he said. "Minnesota? Alternate delegate."
But next week, when Mitt Romney accepts the GOP nomination, Smith will be one of Pennsylvania's 72 delegates on the floor at the Republican National Convention.
"This is my first time as a delegate, so I'm excited to be part of the process," said Smith. "As an alternate, I didn't get to be part of the process."
And if you think the conventions are just glorified photo-ops, delegates said, think again.
"Beyond the speeches and a lot of the rhetoric that you see, it's kind of -- that's where the grass roots organization takes place -- the planning of the door-to-door and the phone calls and all the things that have to happen," said Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, who will be a delegate at the Democratic National Convention one week later.
The conventions are also where each party solidifies its own platform, and on the Republican side at least, that could be the real drama this year.
Former candidate Ron Paul's supporters are promising a stand against more foreign wars. Smith also expects a fight over keeping abortion in the platform.
"Now, a lot of moderate Republicans over the years wanted to take that out, saying it shouldn't even be in the platform," he said. "I'm Catholic, and I think it should stay in."
As for Democrats, at their annual picnic Sunday in Lehigh County, they geared up for their own convention.
"This is my first time as a delegate," said Callahan, who said he expects to be busy. "The Pennsylvania delegation comes together multiple times in the course of the convention to develop our own strategy for statewide."
Next week, Smith said Pennsylvania Republicans also plan to attend strategy sessions with Gov. Tom Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley.