By MATTHEW GOLDENSun Special Correspondent
Or, to be correct, Brooklyn Park, a suburb about 15 minutes northeast of downtown Minneapolis, where the Michigan delegation is staying. This week, I will be blogging for the Morning Sun to provide a local perspective of the happenings here at the Republican National Convention.
I’ve had a lifelong interest in politics, and couldn’t be more excited to be on the ground in Minnesota as Republicans kick off this phase of the election, by making our presidential and vice-presidential nominees official.
In the interest of disclosure, at 24 years old, I am a lifelong Republican. I currently serve as the chairman of the Isabella GOP and formerly served as youth vice-chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. I was an active supporter of Sen. John McCain in the primary, and spent time in Florida and Missouri volunteering in other key primary states following the Michigan primary.
THE PALIN PICK: Since Friday when McCain announced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running-mate pick, the first question in so many conversations with delegates, Alternates, guests and others from Michigan has been something along the lines of “How about that pick?”
Palin seemed to draw a new energy into the grassroots of the GOP. Comments like “a maverick chose a maverick” and “someone we can all relate to” lead the conversations regarding Palin.
Personally, I would have loved to see Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty picked to run with McCain, but the Palin pick got me excited almost immediately and seeing the response in the days following has me convinced that the McCain-Palin ticket was an outstanding choice.
THE PALIN PICK, REVISITED: On Saturday, a small group of people began to discuss the rumors that Gov. Palin’s 6-month-old son, Trig, was actually born to Palin’s oldest daughter, Bristol. Most discredited it as rumor.
Then, on Monday the bombshell was dropped: Bristol Palin was pregnant. The text messages and e-mails started pouring in or many of us, a sign of how news spreads so quickly among the often tech-savvy political groupies.
Even among the hardcore conservatives, the comments extended beyond the simple line, “This is a family matter for the Palin family.” They actually praised the family for doing the right thing by announcing the pregnancy and “doing the right thing,” in keeping the baby.
The other interesting comments I heard over and over again was that this shows that the Palin family is dealing with many of the challenges that other families in America deal with and that its refreshing to see a politician who doesn’t fight to hide anything that may be tough to deal with.
WHO’S HERE: Central Michigan is well represented here in Minnesota. Kim Emmons, the chairwoman of the Clare County GOP is here, as is our state Sen. Alan Cropsey with his wife, Erica. The Michigan group is together a large amount of the time, as we all are staying at the same hotel, and travel to and from the convention center and events together.
HURRICANE GUSTAV: As everyone began to arrive Saturday and Sunday, the all-too common question was “Are we going to have a convention?”
The outpouring of support for hurricane victims has been amazing thus far. During the first few minutes, delegates were promoted to take out their cell phones and make a contribution, via text message, to help hurricane relief programs. I was shocked by the number of people, of all ages, around me that were using their cell phones to make contributions.
The tone has certainly been more mellow. The televisions in our hotel lobby are continuously on the news, and there is often a crowd in the lobby watching the news to find out the latest. It will be interesting to see how everything moves forward for the rest of the week.
I had the opportunity to meet a delegate from Louisiana on the convention floor on Monday. Hearing about the real experiences of the Louisiana delegation was really interesting. Of course, it was moving to hear how many rushed home to be with their families. But, what was more interesting was his comments about how some planned to come back once if possible and that they wanted to bring their families with.
CINDY McCAIN AND LAURA BUSH: Our schedules only indicated that the speakers for Monday’s abbreviated convention session were “to be announced.” As we were boarding the busses to head to the X-Cel Energy Center, the buzz started that Cindy McCain and Laura Bush would make an appearance.
Laura Bush delivered a thoughtful and inspiring speech that focuses on helping the victims of the hurricane. Cindy McCain then joined Mrs. Bush on the stage and shared a similar message. Both Mrs. Bush and Mrs. McCain steered clear of talking politics and once again encouraged everyone to find a way to contribute to the victims of Hurricane Gustav.
It’s been a roller coaster of a few days out here and I look forward to continuing updates. No matter who wins in November, this year will prove to be a historic election. The excitement, energy and dedication to their parties is evident on the ground here in Minneapolis and was obvious last week through last weeks coverage of the Democratic National Convention.Matthew Golden is chairman of the Isabella County Republican Party. He is blogging for the Morning Sun and TheMorningSun.com from St. Paul during the GOP convention.