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Republican National Convention, Day 2, Part One

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Republican National Convention, Day 2, Part One

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Day Two began with a morning conference call for the media, giving the vague outline of who would be speaking when on Tuesday night; the schedule didn’t get emailed until after 6pm, by which time the evening’s proceedings had already started. However, even before the morning conference call, the major network websites had information about who would be speaking and approximately when. That’s because the McCain Campaign was busily arranging with them for extending coverage outside primetime.

During the conference call, campaign manager Rick Davis said that there would be “a segment including the First Lady and the President in an extension of things we had originally planned to do on Monday. Then we will roll into the traditional hour of primetime. I would encourage everyone to look at our schedule with the sensitivity of having lost our primetime coverage for Monday night and look for potentially expanding their coverage into certainly that half-hour between the beginning of the Medal of Honor video and President Bush’s presentation with the First Lady.”

When Rachel Stassen-Berger of St. Paul Pioneer Press asked, “How will Bush address the convention?” Davis replied, “My understanding, and I could be corrected, but my understanding is that he will be at the White House after returning from a trip today and we’ll have a live feed from the White House into the Convention.” It’s waffle-speak like that which feeds conspiracy theories like the one that President Bush actually is here, holed up at the Minneapolis hotel shown below, which is directly opposite the Target Center.

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Tuesday night was the night that Ron Paul was holding his rally in the Target Center, so there were satellite trucks parked there, and President Bush’s address could just as easily have come from the hotel as the White House. Heck, what does it take to have a wooden door, some flags, and two maidenhair ferns on some pillars to simulate the Oval Office? Even if he wasn’t in Minneapolis, the fact is the Republican President of the United States wasn’t at the Republican National Convention, and you have to wonder why. His Mom and Dad and wife were there. Does the “W” stand for “wimp” or was he simply not invited?

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Outside the Target Center, at least one person was not happy with the Texas Congressman, nor with the former Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura.

Ron Paul’s event drew a large crowd; about 10,000 tickets were sold. I’d never received a response from them months ago when I asked to be put on the media list, so I just visited it briefly mid-afternoon to see who was hanging about in the foyer. One young woman was wearing a Chuck Baldwin button as well as several Ron Paul ones. Chuck Baldwin is the Constitution Party candidate, so I asked why she was wearing both buttons. She told me that Ron Paul has asked his supporters NOT to write him in on their ballots as a Presidential candidate as write-in votes often don’t get counted. Instead, Paul is asking his supporters to split their votes 50/50 between Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate. I guess that works if there’s two of you who support Ron Paul, but it’ll be interesting to see what the effect will be among loners!

As a footnote, the next morning CNN interviewed Ron Paul, but after a couple of seconds only of his face, they cut the video away to John McCain’s Straight Talk Express bus sitting at MSP airport. Like, just sitting there. CNN didn’t even do an inset of Paul talking, which is what they often do while holding some other shot in the expectation that something is about to happen.

Speaking of media, I caught an RNC delegate bus back to the convention center from Minneapolis. The only others on the coach were an elderly delegate and her husband guest, but there was plenty to listen to as the driver was constantly updated on route changes, and the sheriff’s radio crackled with back and forth among the security forces in St. Paul, saying who to look out for and where they might be. The coach ride went through leafy suburbs where Obama lawn-signs were as numerous as House for Sale signs, but nary a McCain sign was to be seen.

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Arriving at the delegate security check instead of the media check-in, I was offered an interesting sidetrack to The Fox Experience. Fox News has a production tent sent up from which it is broadcasting its shows. At the extreme left of the photo above, is Alan Colmes, the liberal half of the Hannity and Colmes Show. He arrived just as another coachload of Republican delegates came through, who were delighted to see him and wanted a photo taken with him, but he excused himself to attend to important Blackberry business.

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And so to the Xcel Center for the evening’s events. The building is freezing cold inside, and I was almost tempted to buy a McCain-Palin T-shirt from one of the concession stands inside just to keep warm. Instead, I found a spot leaning against the glass window behind which the concessionaires were fire-grilling their BBQ patties and managed to take the chill out of my bones that way, along with a cup of hot chocolate. Standing straight in front of me, this young man from The Israel Project was busily engaging with RNC delegates, no doubt promoting TIP’s latest video about the dangers of a nuclear Iran.

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Among the early speakers during the day’s session, U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio referred to the United States’ natural resources and the resourcefulness of its people, saying those two things were sufficient to make the country great, and that people should put their trust in them instead of in government. That’s pretty much the Republican platform in a nutshell—but it’s hard to see how unbridled, unregulated resourcefulness is equipped to cope with resources that are finite.

Not far into the program, the exploitation of children—especially the sob-story of Cindy McCain’s rescue of two Bangladeshi orphans who were in Mother Teresa’s care. Not ever having had the stomach for the way politicians trot out their charitable acts in order to get elected, I left in search of the nearest vomitorium.

In Part Two, some vox pop and a close encounter.



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