Convention Countdown: One Week to Go

It is one week before delegates arrive in Minnesota for the Convention.  The last month has been a series of weekly conference calls, either with the national campaign or the local delegation officials.  Much of these calls deal with logistics:  hotel information, transportation, meal and briefing schedules and, yes, what to wear.  It may sound superficial, but because the event is televised and there will be lots of media looking for stories and interviews,  you should assume you will be caught on camera or interviewed by some news outlet.  I have to say, as someone who does not dress up for work everyday, this is helpful information – how formal? how business like? what level of casual?  It has also given me a small license to shop which, as my sister says, is a “shopportunity”.  But these calls are also a good way to feel the pulse of the campaign and how it changes from week to week.  One of the early calls suggested that one way to get the Republicans into the media spotlight is to offer our individual stories as delegates.  It is clear that when looking at my fellow delegates, the Republican party is a diverse and interesting group of people, many of whom are a far cry from the “country-club, business owning, white, higher income” stereotype.  So, in one sense, this blog is a way to get “my story” out there, let people know that Republicans represent normal people who spend most of their time doing normal everyday things for and with their families.  Another clear direction is that we are encouraged to speak about the kind of person McCain is and about his family and accomplishments, but disparaging other candidates is not supported by the campaign.  This has been McCain’s consistent strategy from the primaries into the general election:  this is about issues and the differences on these issues, it is not about slinging mud.

One of the overwhelming parts is the inundation of invitations to events:  not just food related, but real substantive presentations.  My first invite was to an event sponsored by a No Tax Organization, but then the next was to a movie premiere.  Since I am a huge movie buff, I responded with an immediate yes to see “An American Carol”, a satire poking fun at Michael Moore and Hollywood liberals.  I hope there is free popcorn.  But since then, there are invites to discussions on many hotbutton issues, from taxes to the Supreme Court.  The Federalist Society (of which I have been a member) is hosting a truly bi-partisan debate on the future of the Supreme Court between Ted Olsen (former Solicitor General under Bush) and Lawrence Tribe (liberal Harvard Law Professor and litigator).  And these events are just the extra-curriculars,  things to attend apart from the actual delegation meetings and daily briefings and the actual Convention itself.  My sense is that food is the real draw, but I will let you know how things taste.  I guess I could have a special food critic section to this as well.

Because the names of the delegates have been given to the press, I, like many of my co-delegates, have had requests for interviews.  I have had the opportunity to speak to the NY TImes/CBS News, our local Daily Herald and have requests for a couple of national talk shows.  It really is exciting.  Some of the interviews are about who I am, how I got to be a delegate and what are my views on the state of the war, the economy and who might the VP pick be.  But others are less open and more specific, like responding to poll-like questions.  The problem with those poll-question interviews is that the answers they are looking for are supposed to be black and white.  What I have learned is that there is no pure yes or not answer to something like:  Will McCain continue the policies of George Bush?  Well, on some things, yes, in principle, but maybe no in terms of manner.  I also find it important to distinguish my own personal views and hopes from that of the campaign and McCain himself.  Making those distinctions and keeping those views separate is probably the hardest part.   But the questions themselves are incredibly insightful into the media strategy for covering the campaign, and to some extent, revealing where the liberal bias is and what direction it is taking the coverage.   

And finally, there is my participation on the Permanent Organization Committee.  During the Convention, I will be meeting with RNC officials along with two delegates (one man and one woman) from each state to nominate those party members that will serve the party in an official capacity.  It is important because those whom we choose will be responsible for the party’s and the convention’s organization.  The most famous committees are probably the Rules and Platform Committees and they have already been working hard.  I am looking forward to seeing up close the inner workings of the party and getting to know delegates from other states.

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