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August 28, 2008

On To St. Paul

Chris Cavey

By the time this article is posted I will be crammed into one of the cheap seats of a popular domestic airline. At o-dark thirty when the fares are cheap, with my knees against the seat in front of me and my shoulder pressed against the person in seat 19B, I’ll be winging my way to the Twin Cities for the 2008 Republican National Convention.


The reason for my early Thursday journey is my position on the Republican National Committee’s Credentials Committee. The RNC Credentials Committee is the body which decides who is eligible to be a duly designated convention delegate and who is not. Frankly it’s like traffic court rather than the Court of Appeals.


A preview says our adjudication will deal mainly with problems in the states of Washington and Nevada. Both have called into question the seating of various delegation members based on how they were elected and by whom within their state conventions. The questions are basically about illegal voting.


No big deal for any good Maryland Republican, especially for one who lives so near Baltimore City. We’re use to illegal. We can sense it instinctively. I expect to have a wonderful time sharing my examples of how the dead often vote in Maryland, especially now with early voting.


By Sunday afternoon, however, the entire Maryland delegation will be on the ground in St. Paul. After some in-house check-in and credentialing, it will be off to Minneapolis for an “all states pep-rally” at the Minneapolis Convention Center. There we’ll have our official delegation picture taken for all posterity to enjoy.


The Republican National Convention is actually a two-week ordeal. Just as I traveled to Minnesota early, so will all members of the five standing committees. The week before is where the work is accomplished. Committee meetings about things like rules, platform and credentials are ironed out and prepared before the voting body arrives for a short four days.


The actual meeting of the entire body is only 18 hours spread over four sessions with one session each day. During those 18 hours the “business of the party” will be attended to, voted on and – of course – there will be plenty of speechmaking.


Twenty-five scheduled speakers will take the podium at the Xcel Center in St. Paul, including President George W. Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney. Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele on Tuesday the 2nd. For those who will be watching then, Maryland’s delegation will be the crazy people yelling and waiving flags. Most likely this will be our only shot at television camera time.


Maryland Republicans will also enjoy guest speakers for delegation breakfasts; such as Minnesota State Rep. Laura Brod, who will welcome us to her beautiful state, and U.S. Rep Adam Putnam, from the heart of orange grove country in Florida. Representative Putnam is the chairman of the House Republican Conference Committee, ranking number three in the Republican House Caucus.


One morning former Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR) will visit our small delegation, repaying a favor for the kindness Maryland extended to him and his wife Janet. Tuesday morning, however, its national press – as we are scheduled for four “big name” McCain campaign surrogate speakers. All in all, this is a speakers' bureau many states would like to have captured. Not too bad for a small blue state from the mid-Atlantic.


There will be plenty of fun, too, after all it’s a convention. We have planned a luncheon at the Children’s Circus School, a luncheon train trip through the St. Croix Valley, a visit to a local Indian Reservation, and a paddle boat ride on the mighty Mississippi. Each event is in conjunction with other state delegations so Maryland can learn what those deep red states do to get Republicans elected.


The apex of the convention experience will be Thursday evening when Sen. John McCain (AZ) accepts the party’s nomination. At the end of his speech, his wife Cindy, plus his vice presidential choice and his/her spouse will join him on the main podium.


The applause will be thunderous. The balloons will drop at a rate such that you will not be able to see 20 feet in any direction. They will pile on the floor as deep as the seats of the chairs. Confetti will rain from the ceiling so thick that conventioneers will be covered with layers of the sparkling bits and pieces, lying piled on their shoulders, snagged in their hair and filling their shoes.


From that point the campaign will be into full burn and coming around the clubhouse turn headed down the final stretch. Everyone will leave St. Paul charged, ready to work the streets and knock the doors for John McCain.


The biggest hurdle will be Friday morning when 40,000 people simultaneously leave Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport packed like sardines in planes elbow to elbow, shins bruised from the seat in front of them, heading for home, yet satisfied with their week.


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