Five Weeks To Election: Countdown Begins

I have decided to continue blogging throughout the entire campaign.  As a result, I may get a bit more partisan.   To kick off the home stretch of the campaign, we should first cover the debate.  I had the great opportunity to discuss my views on the debate and the recent bailout proposal on Bruce Dumont’s nationally syndicated political radio program Beyond the Beltway.  Bruce’s show is probably the most civilized, balanced format you’ll find on TV or Radio.  His guests each week consist of one clearly partisan guest from each party and two more moderate guests, each with his or her own leanings, one to the left and one to the right.  Bruce has an incredible way of parsing through the issues and positing clear and thought provoking questions.  To hear my participation and of course a definitve debate on the First Debate go to www.beyondthebeltway.com to hear last night’s show. 

After any appearance in the media, or even when we debate our friends and families at the dinner table, we always think about what we said, what we didn’t say, what we could have said better or “Aha, that is the zinger I should have said!”.  Having had a couple of these thoughts myself, I thought I would comment on a few:

One point we discussed in detail was something made apparent by the debate, which was that the War on Terror and our foreign policy is multifacted, and dealt with on many different fronts.  Each front requires its own nuances and strategy.  We have two very different types of leaders emerging, one who prefers diplomacy and a consult first response and one who wants to govern from resolve and strength.  Although these styles are not mutually exclusive, it is clear that one is more willing to act with strength,  is less dependent on advisors for his information and is less deferential to international concensus than the other.  In this dangerous world, who has the knowledge, expertise, judgement and frankly, agility to manage these multiple demands?  I think on Friday night, it was clear only John McCain has all of that and we know this for sure because we know him and how he thinks.  Although I had the opportunity to say this, I feel it needs repeating.

We also had the opportunity to discuss Sarah Palin.  Our debate was cut short due to time so that we never got a good one going.  I have a feeling we could easily fill two hours discussing her.  One thing I want to say is that although she may not have the foreign policy experience or philosophy that McCain has, or even Joe Biden, she has clearly demonstrated the skill set and judgement required to participate in foreign affairs.  As a governor, and this could be said about any good effective governor, they have to negotiate daily with partisan legislators, special interests, big businesses, other politicians (and the media!) on a daily basis.  You either have the skills and judgment to do this or not.  Because she has demonstrated she is more than adept at this, I see no reason she cannot apply her savior faire to the international arena.  Being a good Vice President does not mean having negotiated or met with foreign leaders although we might ask this of the men running for the top of the ticket.  She has demonstrated measurable results and when choosing the leaders of this country, results count.  I also have no doubt that she has the personal skills, and charm!, to diffuse any offenses she might face.  The art of negotiating requires the art of diplomacy and Sarah Palin has demonstrated, if nothing else, that she can  convince and inspire those around her.  As a final note, I find it unbeleivable that someone could think she threatens working women everywhere.  She is the perfect example of a working mother who works and succeeds in her paying job and still managed to be pro-family.  She is a pro-family working mother and has embraced a culture of life, demonstrating that you can work and have a family, that one does not exclude the other.  What feminists are talking about when they say Palin threatens this is (and I hesitated to call this out last night) is that she is pro-life, antiabortion and that somehow threatens the rights of women generally.  Actually this is patently untrue.  Her choices and pro-life values threaten the very concept of choice that feminists have been screaming about for decades.  Shouldn’t we be celebrating the choices that the Palins, as a family have made?

Finally, on a more negative note, there was one thing that troubled me in the debate.  At one point, Barack Obama claimed that his left wing voting record was not liberalism “but me opposing George Bush.”  This spoke volumes to me.  First, it showed a patent disrespect for the not just the office of President, but the man who serves in it.  It also showed an incredible lack of principle.  I would like to think his voting record represents how he feels about something and what he substantively believes in not an opportunity to be a petulant contrarian.  And finally, it shows that he really doesn’t care about being bi-partisan or seeking to make change constructively.  We should be very concerned by this since this is a man who, if elected, will have strong majorities in both the House and Senate.  his willingness to listen to all sides will be reduced and unchallenged and he will not have the checks and balances that a strong democratic government requires.

Convention Recovery: One Week Later

Well, my feet have healed, I have caught up on my sleep and am finally feeling more like my normal self.  I have to admit that the excitement and enthusiasm I gained in Minnesota is still with me and maybe it is because of the way that many Americans are embracing the pick of Sarah Palin as the VP nominee.  I also had the privilege to attend a special fundraiser for Senator McCain in Chicago on Monday the 8th, thus extending the aura of the Convention.  It was also a great time to catch up with some fellow delegates and local candidates that were part of the delegation in Minnesota.  What was great about the event was that it may be the only time McCain visits Illinois before November 4th and it was a very small and intimate gathering, allowing everybody who wanted to a chance to meet the Senator and get in a few words.  It was the first time my husband got to meet the Senator, but I hope not the last.  It is clear that as part of the campaign, we have a lot of work to do in the next 53 days and that anything can happen in that short time.  As McCain says, Game On.  As for my diary, rather than turn it into a political mouthpiece or rant session, I will continue to update readers about local campaign events and campaign worthy items.  For example, Brendan Appel, a Republican candidate for the state house will be campaigning in Evanston this Saturday both at the Northwestern Univ. football game and at a fundraiser after the game.  He is the type of local candidate that Republicans can rally around and could very well be the next Palin, starting out local and eventually broadening the base he serves.  As for Palin, I think she handled the Charlie Gibson interviews with precision, thoughtfulness and detail.  There was no doubt of his contempt for her and it didn’t faze her one bit.  The area that the media will try to trip her up on is foreign policy, where they perceive she is weak.  I think she is showing she is far from it and if anything, seems to have a bigger picture than they do.  First, as a governor forced to share fishing waters and drilling access with Russia, there is no doubt she has experience dealing with one of our major foreign policy challenges.  In addition, she has had to work often with the many Indian nations in her state, each of them a sovereign state of their own.  So her ability to handle true international legal issues has already been tested.  She also recognizes the complexities of Eastern Europe that we face in our future and that Bush doctrine means many things to many people.  I hope she continues to challenge the media on their basic assumptions about world affairs and will not take their assessments for granted.  In closing, I would like to share this upclose photo of Senator McCain taken the other night:

Senator McCain up close and as friendly as ever.

Senator McCain up close and as friendly as ever.

The Last Day of the Convention

As I write this, the exhaustion has set in and it is only the lingering excitement that propels me today.  My feet are still blistered and sore but I am elated and energized for the next 60 days.  I knew the last day was going to be an important one.  After the rousing success of Sarah Palin’s speech, it felt like a the hard part was over, we could let out our breaths and prepare to celebrate and kick off the real campaign.  I actually took a moment this morning to stop by the Basilica of St. Mary’s, the first basilica in America, and light a candle for the events of the day.  The most moving event was a tribute luncheon for Cindy McCain, hosted by Elisabeth Hassleback of THE VIEW, and the lone conservative voice on the program.  She was charming and mentioned that Cindy was nervous knowing she was entering a lion’s den or pit of snakes.  But unlike another woman seeking the First Lady role, Cindy did not have a list of restrictions or topics that were restricted.  Jon Voight spoke and mentioned how Angelina Jolie, when she was little had told her father that she wanted to be a mother when she grew up.  I have to give her credit, she is walking the walk.  And Todd Palin spoke  He was a bit nervous but genuine and funny.  He mentioned that a few years ago, if he had had a crystal ball, then when Sarah mentioned she was running for the PTA, he would have asked a few more questions.  And then we watched an amazing flim about the work of Cindy and her charity Operation Smile.  It was moving to see that this is a woman who has for decades dedicated her life and time making the lives of others across the world more bearable.  She has also adopted the Halo Trust, Princess Diana’s charity that works for the removal of land mines and for their victims.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.  I also had the opportunity to talk at length with Margaret Heckler a real pioneer and dynamo.  She was a congresswoman from Wellesley, MA in the 60’s, Secretary of Health and Human Services under Reagan and Ambassador to Ireland under George H. W. Bush.  What an inspirational woman who has a deep and moving spiritual life as well.  After lunch, how could my day get more interesting?

Well it was off before I knew it to the Convention center to await Sen. McCain’s speech.  I got a great opportunity to meet some more “celebrities” before the speech including Larry Wilmore from the Daily Show.  What a kind and generous man!  And it turns out he is from EVANSTON, IL!  He was more than generous to let me take a picture with him and seemed honored at the request.  I can not tell you again how humble, kind and generous are many of the politicians, pundits and celebrities.  Larry is quite tall as well:

Larry Wilmore of the Daily Show and Evanston, IL.

Larry Wilmore of the Daily Show and Evanston, IL.

 It was clear when I got to the floor that tonight was special.  Almost everyone was dressed up – the delgates that had worn polo/golf shirts and slacks all week had on suits, those who wore suits had on darker suits, white shirts and fancy ties, and those with special convention costumes had on their party best.  The tribute to Cindy McCain and her speech were special.  It seems like this is the first time that all of America gets to see who she is – not just a pretty, passive, supportive wife but a truly accomplished and hard working achiever who has done great things for decades for her business, her charity and her family.  But then it was time for John McCain.  The hall got dark and quiet and then in a dramatic contrast with the event at Invesco field in Denver, a small spotlight lit the empty stage and follwed McCain as he walked to a simple podium.  Everybody was on their feet and even the press recognized that they were witnessing something historical. It was fun to watch all the FOX News reporters get a little star struck themselves as they snapped their own pictures of the event.  See my example of Greta Von Susteren of Fox News’ On the Record, making her own record:

Greta Von Susteren of Fox's On the Record, making her own record

Greta Von Susteren of Fox

 The introduction of John McCain was perfect, self depracating, funny and sweet.  The crowd stood the entire time and at the end as he concluded, the roar was so loud I couldn’t even hear his words (I had to read them later).  There was an attempt to mar the event by a couple of protestors but they were quickly booed, shouted out by chants of USA and escorted immediately from the arena.  McCain handled it with his typical humor, grace and aplomb.   Corny, hokey moment:  When they released the balloons and confetti it was as thrilling as fireworks.  Everyone lingered until the last possible moment, saying goodbye to many friends made this week from the other delegations (Good bye Monica from Massachussetts, MaryEllen from Texas and Deborah from New Jersey), grabbing extra signs and programs and scooping up confetti (with Cindy and John’s faces on it) for souvenirs and just trying to hang on to the familiar feeling that the hall now had as our home for the last four days.  I have to admit, I got a bit sad leaving, realizing that this part was all over.  What I have to remind myself is that this is just the kick off, the beginning of the work we all have over the next sixty days.  I have never felt more focused than now in both my dedication and understanding of my mission to help get McCain and Palin elected.  The wonderful thing is that on Monday I will get to have dinner with the Senator as part of a special fundraiser.  What a great opportunity to hit the ground running.  I cannot describe how meaningful and special this week was.  Not only seeing old friends, but making new ones.  Not only learning about the issues I care about, but acquiring new issues to fight for.  The week truly helped define what it is we are all working for.  To any one reading this who wants to make a difference, I say go out today and find a local candidate you believe in or become one yourself.  Commit yourself to that cause, no matter how small and realize that every little thing we do may be only drops in a bucket but they add up to a rushing river.

Convention Day 3: Service

Each day, there is an assigned theme and that is the focus of the groups and speeches for that day.  The first day was Service, and due to the truncated event as a result of Gustav, all efforts were focused on the relief efforts for the Gulf states.  Day 2 was about Reform and everyone focused on how McCain is different and will make changes in DC.  And yesterday was Prosperity, and while the speeches focused on reducing taxes, improving the economy and reforming government and spending, the real work done by the delegates was SERVICE.  I along with many, many, many other delegates spent much of the day packing care boxes for the folks down in the Gulf region.  I wanted to share with you some photos, very brief snapshots of those efforts:

Assembly line relief efforts

Assembly line relief efforts

Boxes filled with food ready to go to the Gulf

Boxes filled with food ready to go to the GulfA fellow Illinois delegate putting together care packages

It was amazing to see you how so many people could do so much in such a short amount of time.  I haven’t heard the final numbers, but there were Target and Fed EX trucks lined up waiting to be filled with boxes.  I also had the opportunity to hear Senator Brownbeck and Michael Steele speak at a conference discussing the role of religion and faith in a politician’s life.  Michael Steele moved the audience (including some to tears) in telling the story of his own adoption and his gratitude to his natural mother for choosing his life. 

Here I am with Sen. Brownbeck (excuse the glare)

Here I am with Sen. Brownbeck (excuse the glare)

I had some time to kill before the big night.  It was Sarah Palin’s big night and she spoke along with Steele, Romney, and Guiliani.  Where do I begin?  The excitement and the secuirty were at an all-time high and Guiliani kicked it off by attacking the attacks on Palin’s family.  Sarah truly was, even by the New York Times account, “electric”.  It was so exciting to be on the floor for her speech even though I could only best see her on the jumbotrons around the arena.  Nevertheless, she hit a home run again (so far she is batting a thousand) as she took on questions of her experience and Obama’s directly.  She was charming and to the point and even hinted at her own ability to handle foreign policy based on her proximity to Russia.  I think we will see her depth more and more as the weeks come.  No doubt she has sealed her support in the Republican party and has demonstrated she can cross partisan lines. 
So far, for me this convention has been indescribable.  The warmth and sincerity of each person I meet and their committment, not only to getting McCain elected, but to the work they do back home is incredible.  Everyone is down to earth and approachable, even the seemingly remotest of celebrities.  I want to conclude by adding a picture with Karl Rove taken the other night who on the floor with us was friendly, unassuming, generous with his ear, thoughts and time and hilarious!  I wish more than anything America could see the Republican party I see.  We are here to do work and we love this country but we love our families and communities even more by the work we do everyday in home.  Away from the cameras and the lights and the glitz, each person – celebrity, pundit, politician, delgate, volunteer or journalist – really cares about how our lives will be shaped by these efforts and events. 

I wish you could see what a warm and sincere man he is.
I wish you could see what a warm and sincere man he is.

I am truly humbled and honored to be here this week. 

Convention Day 2: Excitement Building

Well my feet were a little better this morning and I made my way to a very interesting breakfast meeting for our delegation.  First, we were greeted by some amazing speakers including Gen. Bud Day (who was a fellow POW with McCain and attended to his injuries; he had the most amazing talk about the time he spent with McCain in the Hanoi Hilton), Michael Steele (former candidate for Governor in Maryland and one of the truly intellectual young stars of the party), and John Bolton (former, tough ambassador to the UN).  Any college group would give its four year budget to get any one of these guys and we had all three.  After the talks, I had the honor to be interviewed by CBS/Channel 2 news along with Kathy Salvi, another delegate, former candidate for Congress and a mother of six.  We were asked about the issues surrounding Palin and what we thought.   I then met with Andy Shaw of ABC/7 to respond to the issues of the day as well.  Both were great opportunities to tell people that no one understands the challenges and adversities we face in life better than John McCain, and by choosing Palin, who has faced many challenges from the oil companies in Alaska to the blessings of two (one to be born) babies, he demonstrates that this campaign is about who can meet adversity with grace, courage and conviction.  I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of understanding and support that has come in response to the pick of Palin.  After breakfast, I attended a Catholic mass and showing of a documentary “Advice and Dissent” about the contentious and bipartisan process for appointing and confirming Supreme Court nominees.  It was something everyone should see.

Whereas I thought I would have the opportunity to shop for campaign souvenirs, I had a pleasant surprise change of plans when I was invited to accompany a Deborah Raho, who works for Catholic Athletes for Christ, in escorting Laura Ingraham while she spoke at the Republican National Coalition for Life reception, sponsored by the Eagle Forum and members of the Texas Delegation.  Phyllis Schlaffly introduced the event and it was an incredible reception.  Laura was called to speak at the last minute after Sarah Palin, the original keynote speaker had to cancel.  We all understand why, she was not the VP pick when she agreed to do this.  We were greeted by Code Pink demonstrators (the first protesters I have seen) but the event was a rousing success.  Laura was emphatic in her support for Palin as a women who walks the walk.   I met some of the nicest, sharpest ladies from the Texas delegation so my hat is off to the strong group down there. 

Laura Ingraham speaks at Republican Coalition for Life event

Laura Ingraham speaks at Republican Coalition for Life event

After the event I headed over to the Convention where we had a tremendous night of speakers:  Laura Bush, President Bush remotely, Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman.  In addition to hearing them, I got to spend a lot of the evening celebrity star gazing.  Our delegation seats are right next to the Fox News stage on the floor so we are right there with their coverage.  I got to meet Karl Rove, Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmeade and countless others.  Yes, it is all corny but each and every one of them was warm and gracious and genuinely glad to pose for photos.  I think this is their “rock star” moment, which I suspect did not happen in Denver.

Sean Hannity, a fellow delegate and me

Sean Hannity, a fellow delegate and me

Me with Brian Kilmeade

Me with Brian KilmeadeSean Hannity, Dick Morris and Alan ColmesGreta Von Susteren interviewing First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain

I ended the evening attending Meghan McCain’s book signing party for her childrens’ book My Dad, John McCain.  She struck me as an incredibly sweet and somewhat shy young woman with a tremendous amount of energy.  I then hobbled home, my feet covered with more wounds and blisters but excited about tomorrow.  There is definitely a feeling in the air that we will have some things to celebrate, if not this week here in Minneapolis, in November and January.  The fundraising efforts for the gulf states continue in full swing and the campaign has not really shifted that focus.  We are waiting to see what happens in the next day or so and how bad the floods and next storms will be.  I have never met so many concerned and diligent people.  I hope that everyone watching the convention gets to see what I see. 

September 3, 2008
Categories: Uncategorized . . Author: delegatediary . Comments: Leave a comment

Convention Focuses on Gulf States

I know that conventions are about fundraising, but this one is clearly about a different kind of fundraising.  Clearly the focus this week is on the plight of those in the Gulf states and as a result, each delegation is working hard with various charities to raise money to help those in the greatest need.  Our delegation is working with Rebuilding Together, a non-profit that brings volunteers and communities together to rehabilitate the homes of low-income homeowners.  This group takes not only money but “in kind” donations so if you have lumber or concrete or tools to donate, they will coordinate the transport of those to the areas in need. Delegates have also been helping out with the phone banks and one of my colleagues was there after Cindy McCain’s speech when they raised over $1 million dollars in just a couple of hours.  So I guess when we talk about fundraising this week it is not for the party but for Americans!  So if you are reading this and watching the flooding down south go the link for rebuildingtogether.org and donate today.

Convention Day 1

The view of the convention from the Illinois seats

The view of the convention from the Illinois seats

Well, as a write this my feet are blistered and I am about to collapse.  And it is only Day 1.  I must learn to pace myself.  The day began with a breakfast meeting for all the Illinois delegates in our hotel.  There we learned about the logistics and the reduced schedule due to Hurricane Gustav.  In fact, many events were reduced or moved up due to the shortened working session of the convention.  After breakfast, I spent the morning with Bobbi Peterson meeting all sorts of fellow delegates and state officials along with many of our media.  One of the nice things is that our local media (including  the Tribune and Sun Times editors as well as Channel 2 (CBS), Channel 7 (ABC) and WGN reporters) are staying with us and participating in many of our activities.  It is a chance for the media to meet each of us and get our input on the story, the issues and our view of the convention.  After breakfast, I joined my husband’s college roommate on a very unusual art tour at the Chambers Hotel.  The hotel has several art installations and a gallery throughout its lobbies including a video project that has security camera footage of guests in their rooms (although really it has actors but it looks like the real thing).  After a quick lunch, it was off to St. Paul and the XCel Energy center for the convention.

The trip to the center was interesting.  The security is incredibly tight and we had a state trooper on our bus and police escort the whole way.  We did not see any protesters but we hear they are here.  Going through the metal detectors was efficient and thorough and then we were in.  My first activity was to meet Tamika Thompson a Young Voices reporter for Tavis Smiley’s show.  It was a great opportunity to talk about why I am writing this blog and how I got it started.  I also got to share some of my views on some of the issues, especially the choice of Palin as VP, and share some of my experiences as a First Timer.  You can tell who we are because we are taking pictures at every turn.  Then it was into the convention hall for the beginning of the first session.

Convention hall before the delegates arrive

Convention hall before the delegates arrive

After a call to order, the pledge and the national anthem, those of us participating in the working committees were called to leave the floor and go to their committee meetings.  There are four working committees, the Rules, Platform, Credentials and Permanent Organizaiton, and each consists of one male and one female delegate from each state.  Our committee nominated and approved the slate of officers for the RNC Organization.  With that work done, we returned to the floor to hear from various party officers and then we had remote feeds from each of the gulf state governors (all Republicans) who remained home to manage the effects of Gustav.  As a result, many of the later events became fundraisers.  And then Laura Bush and Cindy McCain each spoke about the crisis facing our southern gulf states and gave out fundraising information.  The speeches were short and serious and both women are just so gracious that is was moving to see them speak.  Because our seats are located right next to Fox News podium, we have front row seats to their coverage, and we had the privilege to watch close up Greta Von Susteren’s interview with both women.   After leaving the floor I had the privilege to meet Sen. Sam Brownbeck at a gathering for the Catholics for McCain.  By the way, they had really good cheeseburger sliders.  After hobbling out to the bus back to the hotel, I finally got to sit down and put my feet up. 

There is no doubt that there are challenges facing this convention.  Gustav and Palin’s daughter have affected the media coverage of the event and as a result, Americans are not able to see that there is real work being done.  Not only are delegations getting together to help raise funds for relief efforts, but a lot of work is going on within each delegation.  I hear my fellow delegates talking constantly about the issues facing their districts and the changes they are working for.  Not only is it an opportunity to network, but to share information whether it is about how to deal with a certain public offical or how local officials resolved problems.  It puts to rest the notion that conventions are merely media events.  It is a genuine sharing of party ideals and getting to know the people who are working hard to make their districts or states better.  I feel like I have become Pollyanna, but I am encouraged by our political process as I see the real work up close.   No doubt our campaign faces some challenges but I am so confident now that the delegates and candidates are up to these challenges and will meet them head on with grace, dignity and honest hard work.