Friday, September 5, 2008

McCain Puts Washington on Notice -- Day 4 of the RNC Convention in St. Paul

Hello from "Minnesota Nice Country" where being nice is a way of life:

Last night on the final day of the RNC Convention, Senator John McCain warned Washington insiders, "And let me offer an advance warning to the old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second Washington crowd: change is coming."

Taking on the mantel of change is nothing new for John McCain as he explained in the following exerpts from his speech:

"We need to change the way government does almost everything: from the way we protect our security to the way we compete in the world economy; from the way we respond to disasters to the way we fuel our transportation network; from the way we train our workers to the way we educate our children. All these functions of government were designed before the rise of the global economy, the information technology revolution and the end of the Cold War. We have to catch up to history, and we have to change the way we do business in Washington.
The constant partisan rancor that stops us from solving these problems isn’t a cause, it’s a symptom. It’s what happens when people go to Washington to work for themselves and not you.
Again and again, I’ve worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That’s how I will govern as President. I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again. I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not."

Deafening applause ensued, so much so that at times it was difficult for us to hear, especially the last few words of his speech.

The stage was changed earlier in the morning because McCain prefers to stand as close to the audience as possible. I attended a McCain town hall meeting at Union Station in Kansas City this summer and saw that first hand. McCain loves to look the audience in the eye and talk directly to them. He did the same last night. And as is his custom, after his speech he walked down the steps with his wife Cindy onto the arena floor. He visited with delegates, shook hands, and thanked the lucky ones seated near the stage for their service to this country.

John McCain in his purest form--thanking others first.

Day 4 was more serious and subdued than the Palin debut on Day 3 because McCain wanted to emphasize a message that was solemn and thought-provoking. Once his work was done and done well I might add, the crowd became celebratory singing and dancing to the new song by John Rich, "Raising McCain."

"And we’re all just raisin’ McCain
Everywhere across the USA
You can get on the train or get out of the way
We’re all just raisin’ McCain!"

Other highlights of Day 4:

--Yes, we saw the Code Pink protester, but honestly there were two of them who crashed the convention the night before so it rattled no one. One man yelled quite a bit from an upper deck but did not appear to be violent. Incidentally, I was speaking with someone who thought all Code Pink gals were young, but let me tell you these gals were not. This left me pondering what they do for a day job and have they been protesting for years like this?. Could this be their day job? Just wondering. For the record, Code Pink calls on women around the world to rise up and oppose the war in Iraq and future wars. Encourages all actions, from public education and free speech to loud and often outrageous protest. They were not popular with this crowd.

--Calls and text messages from home ask me who is the man who looks exactly like Abe Lincoln. He is on television and in newspapers and on the web. Who is that guy they ask me, almost daily. Well, I am happy to report that this man who calls himself an "Abe Lincoln admirer" not impersonator but admirer (and I like that description), is a Missouri Delegate.

He is George Engelbach of Hillsboro, Missouri, our very own Abe Lincoln. And a fine gentleman he is.

The rest of us in the delegation want to stand next to him so we can get in the newspapers, too. At the very least, we want our photo taken with him and most of us have.

--Michael Steele who spoke to our delegation the day before, walked past our Missouri delegation and visited again with us graciously allowing photo ops. Speaking of photos, nearly every celebrity or politician we met pleasantly agreed to photos and seemed to enjoy visiting with the audience.

--The list of the famous folks we saw is just too long to list here, but a standout on that list in my book is Henry Kissinger who was seated in the VIP box very close to the Missouri alternate delegate seating.

--Speaking of the VIP box, the Missouri delegation's alternates were seated stage right and behind the VIP seating. Many of us preferred sitting there to the main floor. We saw a steady stream of diginitaries and celebrities in those seats, and we had a better view.

--If you are wondering as some have asked, "Why are people constantly walking around on the convention floor. It looks like people are moving all the time." And indeed, yes we are. Most state delegations continually switch between delegates and alternates on the floor. We exchange our credentials for the swap. This practice allows everyone who is in the delegation to experience the floor setting. Then, if possible guests of delegates and alternates who are seated in the rafters are allowed to go down to the floor for a few minutes but must come right back to their seats. When most of the states are doing this it makes for constant movement on the floor. No one minds knowing that it is an opportunity all should enjoy. Great plan even if it makes for crowded aisles and constant floor traffic.

--Earlier in the day, Sen. Kit Bond and his wife Linda, one of the convention coordinators, hosted a luncheon for the Missouri delegation at The Loring Pasta Bar in Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota. It was an ecclectic, funky place with fabulous food and atmosphere. Definitely a highlight of the week.

Senator Bond's special guests at his luncheon were representatives of Missouri Task Force #1 based in Boone County, MO. Nearly 80 Missourians from across the state were moved to St. Paul as a precautionary measure. Doug Westhoff, task force leader, explained that MO Task Force #1 is a federal Urban Search and Rescue Resource in the Department of Homeland Security. They set up camp headquarters just outside the city, ready to respond if needed.

Senator Bond explained, "We understand protesters and that is fine with us. They have every right to protest, but when they start breaking windows of businesses, starting fires, and attacking police and firefighters, that is criminal! That is why we brought in Missouri Task Force One."

As it turned out we were very glad they were there, too. When we left the restaurant, we encountered students from the University of Minnesota who were rude albeit peaceful. Their comments usually went something like this: "Go away. We don't want your kind here." Missouri Task Force One stood outside the restaurant as a deterrent. Most of us decided not to go shopping or browsing because of the unwelcome reception we received in Dinkytown. Earlier we had been told to guard or hide our credentials because dissidents were stealing them. No doubt how the Code Pink gals got in the arena later in the day.

In the local newspapers, we read stories about how the businesses throughout the St. Paul area were not happy with the protesters who blocked customers from their stores. In most cases, local residents as well as visitors decided not to venture out beyond the protected "Red Zone" where there was protection. Not good for business needless to say, and we are sorry for the locals in that regard. None of this is their fault, and we would have visited their shops and restaurants if we could.


Quote #1--Fred Thompson who spoke to us at a reception for Senator Bob Dole. Thompson said this, "This is not the time to turn the keys to the car over to an inexperienced driver in heavy traffic." He was referring of course to Obama.

At this particular reception on Day 3 in honor of Senator Dole, Missouri and Kansas delegations came together to honor Dole's service. To my surprise, there were minimal MU-KU jokes. For this cause, we were all on the same page. Former Senator Jack Danforth, former Senator Jim Talent, candidate for Governor Kenny Hulshof, former Senator Fred Thompson, Senator Sam Brownbeck, and other notables made remarks.

Quote #2--Senator Kit Bond quipped about Sarah Palin, "She is going to body check Joe Biden!"

Quote #3--Senator Bond said at his luncheon on Day 4 that he gave the wrong analogy earlier when he called Palin's speech "a home run." He said I misspoke. I should have said it was a hat trick because she pulled from her hat three very important things. She can speak. She showed us her life exemplifies what she believes in. She took out her stiletto heel and punctured holes in the Barrack balloon!"

Most of us are heading home this morning full of memories, unexpected experiences, and renewed hope for the future of our country.

This blog is what I like to call "responsible opinion." Blogs are rightly about opinion, but bloggers must be responsible in that task. I try to do just that.

From Minnesota enroute to Missourah, warm regards from the Missouri RNC Delegation.

P.S. We love Minnesota, where we learned the real meaning of "Minnesota nice."

You betcha!!!