With all eyes fixed on Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast the Republican Convention was prepared for a quiet, uneventful, first day. Then as one reporter labeled it, the “hot story” broke–the news that presumptive Vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol was pregnant. This was the number one issue for reporters to the delegates. What would the news mean to Palin’s candidacy? How will the news effect the convention? What kind of mother is Palin? Did the McCain team know and when did they know it?
The campaign’s response was that McCain knew ahead of time and that the media should leave the candidate’s children out of campaign reporting. Even Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama argued that the media should stay away from the story.
The delegates rallied around Palin. On nearly every occasion when the names of John McCain and Sarah Palin were mentioned from the podium, Palin’s name received the louder cheer.
Watching First Lady Laura Bush and First Lady-in-waiting Cindy McCain at the podium and in front of a large screen with video messages four Republican Gulf State governors, you had to wonder if there was a subliminal message being sent about strong women and strong governors – women/governors – a now prominent woman governor in the GOP — or am I reaching here?
California Congressman Kevin McCarthy had a prime speaking role the first day as a co-chairman of the Platform Committee. McCarthy has been getting attention as a leader of the “Young Guns” of the party trying to capture the majority by reaching out on issues of fiscal responsibility, energy independence, Washington accountability and ethical reform.
As head of the platform committee, McCarthy praised the process in constructing the platform. He said the committee created an open process inviting ideas from the public and received over 11,000 submissions. One outside idea that made the platform was submitted by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Governor Schwarzenegger sent a letter discussing the need to mention infrastructure improvement in the platform. McCarthy said, “You want an idea of who put one in, Governor Schwarzenegger put infrastructure into the platform itself.”
When asked about Schwarzenegger’s differences with California Republicans in the legislature, McCarthy, a former Republican leader in the Assembly, offered a comparison between Schwarzenegger and presumptive nominee, John McCain. “There’s nothing wrong with being a maverick for something you believe in. We believe debate is good, we believe in the idea don’t have to have conformity. I think John McCain has been a maverick many times and challenged his party as well. I think people like that.”
The California Delegation is situated on the convention floor to the left of the podium as one looks out from the podium. From that angle the delegates get a side view of the speaker and cannot see the large screen situated behind the speaker.
However, California alternate delegates sit in the stadium style seats directly across the floor from the podium and giant screen, Those seats are theater seating as compared to the narrow seats on the floor with no armrest. All in all, except for that little thing called voting, which is rather overrated at a modern political convention, the alternates’ position is better off than the delegates’ seats.
Former Governor Pete Wilson addressed the California delegation breakfast. Acknowledging that the Convention officials suggested a “tempered tone” he admitted to being a “lesser mortal and would find that hard to do.” Saying partisanship is as old as democracy itself, Wilson blasted the Democratic ticket for a number of sins including trying to bring back old failed economic programs “that don’t work worth a damn.” He also raised the issues of nuclear power and the re-emergence of Russia as a threatening power as issues that he believed the Democrats had the wrong ideas.
There was trouble from some of the protestors who came to the convention. Reportedly bricks were thrown at some of the delegate’s buses and roads were blocked by protestors sitting on the roads. Bus routes were changed to avoid protests. Our driver took a wrong turn and the 30 minute ride lasted nearly an hour and a half. At one point frustrated delegates started pulling out GPS equipped cell phones and hollering directions at the driver.
The day before the driver of a cab we hailed needed to make a phone call to get directions to the hotel we were going to.
And some thought it was just the Republicans who didn’t know where they were going here in Minneapolis-St. Paul.