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.


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