Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday August 31, 2008- Midnight

After picking our son Jeremy Fair, a minister from Arlington, Texas at the airport, we rushed back to the hotel and changed clothes to head to the official Welcoming Event at the Minneapolis Convention Center. We "walked the red carpet" and grazed on some "Little Food" as Rodney Dangerfield would say. There was lots of activity at the reception including a display of the former Air Force One- that was retired after George HW Bush. We were able to walk through and tour it. I got my photograph at the door waving and so did Debbie- see above.

I visited with several delegates from other states including a couple from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Their names were Stacy and Eddie Napolitano. Eddie is a Gulf War vet and a big McCain fan. "McCain is a great leader who has character and is a compelling guy," Eddie told me. Stacy and Eddie have been married twelve years and she has been battling cancer ten of those years. He is President of the SE Broward County GOP Club and is an Alternate delegate to the convention. It's his first convention.

I talked with Mary Jones, our State Party Chairman's wife. Mary Jane is a kindergarten teacher in Cache. She said she had enjoyed the evening at Game Works on Sunday evening. The Louisiana delegation had sponsored the event and because of Gustav, they had several extra tickets. Game Works is an adult game place kind of like Chuckie Cheese for adults. Mary works behind the scenes- laboring without recognition. Much of the time no one knows what Mary has done and she likes it that way, but her support of Gary and the party is under appreciated.

I also talked to Rebecca, a volunteer working the red carpet at the Welcoming Event. Rebecca isn't a Republican, she was only volunteering as her "civic" duty. She was gracious and said the Republican delegates had been very nice.

I saw my friend Representative Gary Banz and his lovely wife Linda at the event. Marc Nuttle, a Norman attorney and political operative was at the event and we visited. Marc is a principled man who ran Pat Robinson's campaign for President. Marc is a joy to be around.

After we got back to the hotel, we went to the hospitality suite where I visited with Lukus and Ellany Collins. Lukus is an investment analysis and an Alternate Delegate. He was elected at the 5th district convention. Lukus and Ellany have a beautiful two year old daughter they brought to the convention with them. He was home schooled and is a graduate of ORU. "I decided in the summer that I wanted to get involved in politics and really Ron Paul inspired me to get involved," Lukas said. Lukus worked on a local state legislative race- Andrew Winningham who narrowly lost to Jason Nelson. Collins plans to attend the Rally for the Republic which will be on Tuesday all day at the Target Center. Congressman Paul is speaking, as is Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr.

I also visited with Toby Pedford is a delegate from the 5th district. Toby is married and has two girls and this is his first convention. He works in investments and insurance. Toby is an African-American whose candor and openness was refreshing. "What black people are looking for in politics is liberty," Toby said. "In reality, that's what Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X were proclaiming to African-Americans," Toby said.

"Blacks vote primarily for someone who recognize that blacks are part of the community," Pedford stated. "It's amazing that African-Americans vote for Democrats when so much of what the Democrats stand for- same sex marriage, abortion on demand- the black community does not support," Toby said. I mentioned that former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts had pointed out that Republicans sort of "write off" the black vote and Pedford agreed that is a problem.

Pedford is also a big fan of Congressman Paul and said that Paul's proposal to allow non-violent inmates to retain their right to bear arms would impact the African-American community in a positive way. "It would reduce violence and allow fathers to protect their families," Toby said. Pedford is an intelligent, rational thinker. I I hope he seeks elective office someday. He has the iron rail up the shirt tail necessary to make a difference.

I visited with former Keating Chief of Staff Howard Barnett briefly. Howard is a Co-Chair of the McCain campaign. He said it is a possibility the Senator may accept the nomination via satellite hook-up due to Gustav. Howard is an unassuming, approachable gentlemen with an easy wit and outgoing personality. Too bad he was unsuccessful in his bid for State Treasurer- he would have been a good one.

Gary Jones and I went to the ballroom to check it out for tomorrow night's events when Grace Hickman, the 1st District GOP Chair cornered me and said that Wolf Bitzer from CNN was staying at our hotel and I should interview him. We waited in the lobby for thirty minutes until someone with a CNN badge came by. She is a producer for CNN and while she said I could not publish her name due to my blogging for Fox, she was candid and engaging. As we began the interview, others joined in until finally I was writing as fast as I could. She asked the following question:

What was our reaction to McCain's pick of Sarah Palin for Vice President?

State Representative Sally Kern said, "If you heard her speech on Friday, you understand this lady has passion and conviction." "She is not afraid to go after the good old boys," Kern concluded. Gary Jones, State GOP Chair, said "Palins primary assets are her integrity and judgement." Don Burdick from Tulsa pointed out to the CNN producer, "You note that none of us have mentioned Palin was picked because she is a woman." "She was picked because she has the ability to lead."

The unnamed producer pressed the point about Palin's inexperience, but with multiple voices attempting to point out that Palin's resume has more executive experience than McCain, Biden or Obama and that Obama's resume is thinner than a fruit rollup, I could not list all the names of those pointing that out. Over thirty people gathered in the lobby listening to the discussion. It was civil and gracious. During the discussion, Donna Brazil, a CNN contributor and a Democrat Super Delegate, listened in. Brazil publicly thanked the Oklahoma people for their response to Katrina and offers to help with Gustav. "I love Oklahoma and their people. I will continue to love them until after Gustav and when they play LSU," Brazil joked.

Several people asked the CNN producer about her political views, but her journalism training kept her from tipping her hand too much. "As a journalist, both tickets bring a historical perspective to the equation," she concluded. We never did see Wolf Bitzer- perhaps he was out howling at the moon.

The day was long and the events fun, but the highlight of the day was the spontaneous gathering in the lobby that had delegates stating their opinions in a civil way. As Toby Pedford had said earlier in the evening, "Sometimes we have to agree to disagree." But allowing people to express their opinions and listening to others speak about their political philosophy forces one to defend their own opinions- that's not a bad thing.

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