Monday, September 1, 2008
Breakfast for the Oklahoma delegation started at 8am. What a line-up of speakers. Congresswoman Heather Wilson from New Mexico, the only woman veteran in Congress and a graduate of the Air Force Academy spoke first. She was introduced by Oklahoma Congresswoman Mary Fallin. Wilson addressed the changes in the convention schedule. "We take care of our neighbors first." The first priority is to take care of the people," Wilson said. She announced that a Hurricane Information Center had been set up for delegates for states that could be potentially impacted by Gustav. "The conditions on the ground in the gulf coast will impact the convention as needed," Wilson stated. Addressing the difference between three years ago and Katrina and today, Wilson said, "One of the major differences is Louisiana now has a Governor which is doing the right thing."
Wilson was followed by former Secretary of Veteran Affairs Jim Nicholson who also headed up the Republican National Committee. Nicholson spoke of a defining moment in 1995 when Senator McCain came to Colorado to campaign for Senator Phil Gramm. "After a long day of campaigning, John McCain wanted to make an unannounced visit to the local VA Hospital." "He didn't want the media or the cameras and his interaction with those veterans was unbelievable."
The next speaker was Governor John Huntsman from Idaho. Huntsman has been a long time supporter of McCain and said Americans need to elect McCain for three reasons- (1) He is a man of vision and leadership, (2) He is an original and (3) He is a phenomenal Dad. Huntsman said, "I have seen him with his children- Bridget, his adopted daughter from Mother Teresa's orphanage and his son who is serving in Iraq without the media around." "He is warm and loving and doesn't reveal that side often." On Sarah Palin, Huntsman said, "Those who are under estimating Sarah Palin and her ability- I can't wait." Huntsman, a former Secretary of the Interior and U.S. Senator, quoted Ronald Reagan when he said, "Only in Washington D.C. would the agency in charge of the outdoors be called the Interior Department." Huntsman said during a recent luncheon with former British Leader Tony Blair he said, "I pay that whomever America chooses is tough, because of the potential crisis's we will face in the future."
The next speaker was retired Air Force Colonel Tom Kirk. He was shot down by the North Vietnamese in October 1967 and was a POW until 1973. He shared a cell with John McCain in Hanoi. Col. Kirk flew combat missions on two tours in Vietnam and one tour in Korea. He retired after 28 years in the United States Air Force and resides in Vail, Colorado. During his captivity, Kirk said he lost ninety pounds. As he described the conditions of he and McCain's imprisonment, tears flowed in the audience. "In my 80 years, I have never met a man with more absolute integrity and resolve than John McCain," Kirk proclaimed. As he described McCain's leadership skills, he did it with a matter of fact, military style that was refreshing and so much different than what you normally see at a political event. "I would walk the last mile of my life with John McCain," Kirk concluded. I had my photo taken with this American hero (See above)
The last speaker was Andy McCain, who is McCain's son from his first marriage. "We used to tease Dad about his service to our country." "He was always saying he owed a debt to our country, but what a lot of people don't know is that before he was shot down, he wrecked 5 fighter jets in battle, so he may still need to work a few more years to pay that debt off." Andy was complimentary of his father. "Every decision my Dad has every made has been country first." "He instilled a sense of patriotism and service to our country that was passed down to him by his father and grandfather." "He's a great Dad."
Morale is high and many of the Oklahoma delegates asked me to see if the local Salvation Army could use us today since we had some down time due to the changes in the convention schedule. Because it is a holiday and the local Salvation Army operation is in disaster mode, they really didn't feel they could accommodate us, however Lisa Mullelur the Captain of the SA in St. Paul said she would call me if they needed some help with the disaster relief. After some housekeeping items and recognition of Brenda Jones, of Jones Public Relations, who organized the breakfast, the event was concluded in prayer led by Tony Lauinger, the Chairman of Oklahomans for Life.