Posted by: Joshua Gross | August 31, 2008

Conventional Arrival

I pulled in around 9:00 PM local time last night, weary from too much flying (I still don’t know if it was Northwest or Priceline that bumped my two-hour direct flight from Charlotte to MSP into two separate two hour flights, with Memphis in the middle… I suspect the airline… and I digress.)

The trip up was eventful. The drive up I-77 to Charlotte included some guy in a minivan who rode my bumper for an hour (even when I changed lanes…). You know that section where 77 goes from two to three to four lanes? I stayed in the “fast” lane, which became the “2” lane. The minivan goes flying around me, but fails to notice the real reason I was driving 70 – the unmarked officer car in front of me, who promptly nails the minivan for whatever speed he was doing when he blew by Sparky. Sometimes, karma’s a beaut.

My first flight was with an LAPD officer who just got back from Iraq this week. Definitely an eye-opener on what’s going on there. It’s clear we’ve won what we went to do – so it’s fast approaching time to declare victory, turn it over to the Iraqis and bring the boys home. Victory with honor is a great way to wrap it all up…

My second flight was also interesting. I was next to two older gals from Mississippi. One was from the north part of the state and was headed to a Montana retreat with her family for two weeks. The place sounds idyllic – a ranch with a stream in the mountains… The other gal was from Pass Christiane, and was fleeing Gustav in advance. When she had returned to her home after Katrina, EVERYTHING had been gone, including the foundation, and two of her best friends. This time, she and her husband didn’t pack the blueprints for the house – if this hurricane takes the newly rebuilt home, they’ll go somewhere else.

These two gals are part of a very important sector of the Republican coalition – married women (who, the polling tells us, are twice as likely to vote Republican as are single women.) Suffice it to say they both had similar feelings as I have had in this election season. None of us were all that thrilled with the concept of a McCain candidacy, but we’re all absolutely stoked over a McCain/Palin candidacy. Two days on, among the folks who are the backbone of the Party, the Palin choice is an absolute home run – exactly what was needed to reach out to the Republican base and energize it. McCain is his own best outreach to the middle (though Palin’s reach to independent women and the “hockey moms” of the battleground states of the northern Midwest {MN, MI, WI, IA, OH, and PA} will be critical).

After so much flying (and a long wait for the luggage at MSP) it was a relief to get to the hotel and immediately be among so many friends. I’ve already run into at least a dozen SC folks, including Chairman Dawson this morning. It’s kinda weird to travel all day, and then see friendly faces you know when you get here. I’ve also run into a fellow traveler from the Fred Thompson campaign as well as Bud McFarlane, the former Reagan National Security Advisor who is now a delegate from DC.

Dawn broke this morning to a brilliant blue sky day here – a cool breeze blowing through the sun-splashed city. I walked the two blocks down to Key’s Café, which came highly recommended by security here. (Travelers hint – if you want to know where to go to get a real breakfast, ask security. They know. Trust me.) The “Everything” omelette was as good as promised, including the homemade strawberry jam on the 12-grain wheat toast. The ambiance was somewhat disturbed when we were joined by the members of a lesbian protestor choir who saw our badges and simply glared…

OH yes, I nearly forgot – the “protestors”. A handful of “peaceful protestors” were arrested yesterday by local law enforcement (God Bless Them All), and charged with conspiracy to start a riot. Among the items confiscated were knives, machetes, slingshots, bows, arrows, lighter fluid, and (my personal favorite) “buckets of urine.” I’m guessing they wanted to mark their territory before they shot the flaming arrows of Gladiator doom in our direction. Good on the local sheriff for shutting it down.

St. Paul city Councilman Dave Thune gets the prize for clueless local Democrat politician quote of the day: (amalgamated from MSNBC and the STrib)

“This is not the way to start things off,” Thune said Saturday morning. “This is sending the wrong message. Regardless of how you feel about these people…they had a right to be there… We spent so much time trying to welcome people to the city and now this is the way we start out,” he said. “It pretty much sucks.”

Gee, Councilman Thune, “We invited folks to be here” is an awfully strange excuse for why those folks should be met with weaponry upon arrival…or did you mean you’ve been inviting anarchist rioters to your district, while the rest of the city is trying welcome Republicans here for a convention? (So… yes, I am wearing my convention security badge for the next week…)

Actually, the local folks working the convention have been spectacularly welcoming. Special shout-out to Annie and Lorri from the MSP2008 crew who have been invaluable in dispensing tourism advice and maps… even last night’s cab driver was into the convention spirit, as an immigrant who came here legally to start a new business and enjoy the American dream as “his own boss.”

Bad Republican rumor of the day – if and when Gustav hits we may shut down the convention. That would be a mistake. This is an opportunity for Senator McCain and Governor Palin to be serious about serious issues at the convention – even if by satellite live from the Gulf Coast. We delegates can be responsible and dial down the “party” aspect of a convention like this – but we shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to energize the base (here and around the country). The Palin nomination has us all in high-energy mode right now, and this convention could be a terrific way to channel that energy into community service projects (locally and in the Gulf) that could go a long way towards building our reputation along those lines. All that said, our prayers go out to the folks along the Gulf Coast right now in the path of the storm. They’re very much in our thoughts.

I’m one of at least three of us blogging from the SC delegation – along with my convention roomie Drew McKissick (Conservative Outpost), and Rep. Alan Clemmons, who is writing for the Sun News. I’m looking forward to what the next week holds.

OK, Moye Graham just rolled up – time for the Party to start…

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