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Advertise on the Tentacle

September 11, 2008

Eloquent Prose Excellent Friends

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Last week I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to tag along to the Republican National Convention with the Maryland delegation.


The official Maryland delegation numbered 71 elected delegates, alternates, and national committee representatives, plus guests. Among the Maryland delegation were two other writers for “,” Katie Nash and Chris Cavey.


Just like Ms. Nash, this was my first Republican convention. She observed that “…sitting in the convention hall with the other state delegations was incredible – overwhelming to think that I have come to this place with my fellow Republicans from all around the country.


“It occurs to me that despite the size of this event and the massive quantity of Republicans that have descended upon Saint Paul/Minneapolis, it really is a small world. (W)e (were) all sharing the same experiences – we are all connected by this convention.”


One of Ms. Nash’s favorite moments at the convention was “saying the Pledge of Allegiance with my fellow Republicans in the convention hall. When I think that we are exercising our rights granted to us by those great political leaders who came before us, I feel an intense pride at being here,” elaborated Ms. Nash.


I understood exactly how she felt as I also did a great deal of reflecting upon all the history and tradition that went into the convention.


Mr. Cavey repeated his right-on-the-money description – that he also gave to Gazette reporter Sean Sedam – of one of my favorite convention speeches. It was former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson presentation on Tuesday night.


Mr. Cavey was an avid Thompson supporter when he ran for president in the earlier primaries. “I love how he tells it just like it is,” said Mr. Cavey as he tried to wake up at breakfast the morning after the speech. “It’s gas station politics. It isn’t always pretty or sophisticated, but most of the time, it’s right on the money.”


One of the many unexpected opportunities of traveling with the Maryland delegation was having the chance to spend time with party leaders and journalists from across the state.


Leaders like House of Delegates Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell, an at-large delegate; Del. Chris Shank of Hagerstown; Maryland Republican Party chair Jim Pelura; and Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, who has been an elected delegate to eight GOP conventions.


Many people are aware that Mr. Leopold served in the Maryland General Assembly for 20 years before his election as county executive in 2006. But did you know that he served as a Hawaii state senator from 1974-1978?


In getting to know them better, I was delighted with the thoughtful analysis with which the party leadership applies to local, state, and national issues. It brought back memories of the many political science and theory classes I’ve taken over the years – only this was seeing first hand how theory meets reality.


It was a wonderful glimpse into the day-to-day humanity of Maryland’s Republican leadership that you certainly do not get from reading much of Maryland’s elite media.


One anticipated opportunity, for which I was not disappointed, was the chance to meet and talk with national political and media actors from all over the world. One day I had lunch with a Swede reporting on the convention for Swedish radio.


I also had the opportunity to meet and briefly speak with the likes of Karl Rove; Newt Gingrich; former Baltimore Sun reporter Eric Segal, who now reports for NPR; Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post columnist; new media blogger Andrew Breitbart; Fred Davis, the media talent behind the McCain campaign ads; and actor Jon Voight.


The list of national players who spoke at the convention is lengthy and it was certainly exciting to have the opportunity to have four days of immersion in back-to-back presentations from everyone from First Lady Laura Bush to (one of the relatively unreported highlights) the governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle.


Yes, to be sure, it was Alaska governor Sarah Palin who stole the show.  However, after avidly following her career for quite a number of years, I was certainly not surprised. She is – after all – a journalist who went over to the other side of the keyboard and became the mayor of a small municipality… Hmmm.


The other speakers who were electrifying were former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and – of course – our own Michael Steele, who remains in the wings for future statewide and/or national leadership responsibilities.


Also engaging were the presentations by female CEO’s, including former eBay Chief Meg Whitman, and former Hewlett-Packard head Carli Fiorina.


Other delights included the daily breakfast meetings in which the Maryland delegation leadership team of Chris Cavey, Don Murphy, Justin Ready, Tony O’Donnell, and Jim Pelura pulled out all the stops to have national figures available to speak with us, up-front and personal.


We had the opportunity to meet and hear Sen. John McCain’s son, Doug, who was also a Navy pilot; Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin; Arizona Senator John Kyl; Everett Alverez, a fellow prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton with Senator McCain; and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, to name just a few.


And of course, we were in the constant company of Mr. Steele, who always lights up a room with his infectious smile and quick wit.


As for my lasting impressions of the convention, I was impressed with the event’s efficiency and organization – both with the Maryland delegation’s coordination and the convention as a whole. I will always remember how incredibly nice everyone was.


And, finally, I was impressed with the Republican Party’s emphasis on empowering youth, women, Hispanics and African-Americans for future leadership roles in Maryland and national politics.


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at:


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