Former California GOP chairman Duf Sundheim and former Assemblyman Jim Cunneen joined us in the CA GOP pressroom earlier today, where they chatted online with readers of the Contra Costa Times and the San Jose Mercury News.
Okay, it’s not very exciting to watch people blog … but here is a quick snippet.
Republicans resumed their regularly scheduled programs today after Hurricane Gustav — thank goodness — failed to live down to all the dire predictions.
Rumors flew all day about whether President Bush would appear in person at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul or via satellite.
President Bush did show up in St. Paul but not the the President Bush we thought: President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush surprised conventioneers with a cameo. They didn’t speak but Republicans gave them a rousing round of applause.
President George W. Bush spoke to the delegation from the White House, praising John McCain.
Here are a few clips. Sorry about the fact that you can’t see much detail. I’m in the press stands, which isn’t exactly the nosebleed section but the little camcorder I use doesn’t do zoom.
The California delegation hotel is a couple of exits away from the largest enclosed mall in the country, the Mall of America. What better way to spend a few hours if the evening convention schedule has been canceled?
My colleague from the Mercury News, Mary Anne and I, were underwhelmed. Yeah, it’s big and it has 500-plus stores. And yeah, there’s a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel inside. But this is Minnesota. They have winter, a season those of us from the Bay Area have little experience. Having stuff indoors is a big plus.
We heard the mall had a “Reporter’s Retreat” lounge with offers to let journalists swim with sharks — I’m not sure if they were real sharks or why sharks would live in Minnesota — but it was closed by the time we got there tonight.
Here’s a quick video of the rollercoaster. Mary Anne offered to video me in one of the rides but that would have been unseemly. There’s a hurricane going on, after all.
Everyone asks me how the Republican and Democratic conventions compare.
Here’s one: the Republicans have the best, by far, swag. These are the goodie bags they hand to the delegates and the media.
GOP 2008 convention swag
The haul from the GOP includes a pair of binoculars, a pedometer, a tub of pomegranate body butter, a Mickey Mouse flashing necklace, luggage tags, Kraft macaroni and cheese with an elephant pictured on the box, lip balm, brocoli-shaped stress squeezie thingie, luggage tag, umbrella, tons of nuts and dried fruits and snacks, Optive eye drops and my absolute favorite, “Wine Me, Dine Me” nail polish.
All this stuff iwill cost me, though. The extra weight will probably tip my suitcase over the 50 pound limit — it was 49 pounds when I left Denver on Saturday — and I’ll have to pay extra to get it home.
Who knew Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had an understudy?
Former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will stand in for the guv and speak at tomorrow morning’s California delegate breakfast, the “Bloody Mary Brunch” sponsored by the Morongo Mission Band of Indians.
Romney has also agreed to replace Schwarzenegger as host of the evening event called “Island Fever” from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. in Minneapolis after the evening convention floor session.
Schwarzenegger had hoped to be in St. Paul, Minn., for the convention but he has been unable to wrest a budget from the state Legislature some 60 days after the deadline and said he would not go if he had no budget.
Heck, you’ve seen one governor, you’ve seen them all, right?
First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain, wife of presumed GOP nominee John McCain, took the stage at the Republican convention this afternoon.
Instead of traditional political speeches, the women urged conventioneers to donate to organizations raising money for victims of Hurricane Gustav. They were the stars of the convention thus far, after President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney canceled their appearances due to the hurricane. Laura Bush was originally scheduled to speak tonight.
Here are a few short videos of Cindy McCain and Laura Bush taken from the press stands in the Excel Energy Center.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t here in St. Paul — he’s busy dealing with his state’s budget mess — but he could have had a place next to the hearts and minds of every single California delegate.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry bought the entire Texas delegation matching shirts — one for each day of the convention — and white cowboy hats. Oaklahoma is wearing matching red shirts and Floridians are reportedly wearing tropical clothing.
What should Californians wear?
One Texas delegate replete in his white hat suggested the Golden State’s representatives could wear T-shirts emblazoned with Arnold’s famous biceps and likeness.
As a St. Paul Pioneer Press editor said, “We planned for every contingency in this convention except that it wouldn’t happen.”
But the dire warnings of a canceled or severely curtailed convention appear have dropped with Hurricane Gustav’s shrinking storm rating. The only session called off was tonight’s, largely because every main speaker except Sen. Joe Lieberman canceled — President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The gavel came down this afternoon as the party began conducting its official business. There is talk that First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain will speak this afternoon but there’s no official word. We’ll know in the next hour or so; the session is scheduled to conclude at 5:30 p.m. Central Time.
Here’s a short video of the floor several hours before the crowd started gathering:
California’s 345 delegates to the national convention, including alternates, kicked off the morning on Labor Day with their first official breakfast meeting.
Speakers included California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, former Gov. Pete Wilson and Jerry Coffee, a retired veteran who was imprisoned in the “Hanoi Hilton” with presumed GOP nominee and Sen. John McCain.
(Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans feed the media at their breakfast meetings. It was pretty good: fresh fruit, pastries, orange and cranberry juice, coffee, scrambled eggs, potatoes and even a chocolate. I usually don’t eat on the host’s dime but at these conventions, if you don’t eat when food is available, you may go without food for hours. And I get really crabby without food.)