I didn’t want to end with a negative report, so here, belatedly is more:
RNC report from Minneapolis-St. Paul
Wednesday morning we went to the Nebraska breakfast. The scene was like the other two breakfasts. We hung out at the Hilton with campaign staff afterwards and talked to people. We didn’t stay long enough to see John McCain, who stopped in after we left.
Tonight was the complete opposite of last night. After the first hour or so of the parade of speeches by unknown people there was one star after another – Romney, Huckabee, Giuliani – with rousing and pointed speeches. Tonight the theme of the unknowns was prosperity. I hadn’t realized each night had a theme, and last night’s was service. There were the same Hershey-bar signs, but this time they said “Prosperity.” So the unknowns were mostly small-business owners, I think. We were trying to find out where we were supposed to be. Last night we were in general seats. Tonight we were in a box, but it took a while for our handlers to figure out which one. Being in a box helped my mood too. The arena is used for ice hockey, and I think the people in charge forgot this wasn’t an ice hockey game. Last night I froze. The box was free of drafts and full of people, with food and drinks, and very comfortable.
But what can I say about Sarah Palin’s speech? You must have seen it. When she walked onto the stage, people leaped to their feet and cheered, and kept clapping for what I was later told was two and a half minutes. It was brilliant, and at the end too it seemed natural to clap and clap and clap, kind of like breathing. There was so much pent-up anger at the media, and joy at Sarah’s presence, that people just exploded.
The speeches leading up to her were powerful, and gave the audience the red meat we’d been waiting for. I wonder if Romney, Huckabee and Giuliani gave such good speeches during their campaigns. I don’t think Giuliani did. Somehow Sarah Palin energized everything and everyone.
I don’t know if this was shown on TV — Linda Lingle, Governor of Hawaii, giving a speech on Sarah Palin’s qualifications. At one point she said, in relation to executive experience: “What’s Obama’s experience? Zero!” A part of the audience started chanting “Zero, zero, zero,” and others picked it up. They chanted it again later on when Obama was mentioned. We thought of a bumper sticker: “The hero, not the zero.”
The next day we had to leave. Jim had been asked to speak at a rally in Sterling Heights, Michigan — the campaign’s second rally after the convention. We were driving, so we had to leave Thursday to get there in time. So we missed the McCain speech. But Jim thought he could contribute more by speaking at the rally, and I think he was right. There were supposed to be about 10,000 people there, but people were sitting on the grass at the back and around the sides, standing everywhere they could fit. People were excited. Some local people spoke, they had some music and the National Anthem, and then Jim spoke just before McCain and Palin came in. He was a huge hit, and after the stars spoke and left we could hardly get out of the place for people wanting to talk to him. Other family members were sitting on the grass at the back, and some people took pictures of them just because they were related to Jim. This kind of thing always makes me laugh. Of course Jim is a hero, but he’s my husband so I’m used to him. I mean, he doesn’t fly off the roof every day and vanquish villains. But I never tire of hearing his POW stories.
We were sitting at the side of the stage and couldn’t see the speakers, but it was okay, because McCain and Palin came right by us on their way in and out. I shook Sarah’s hand. On their way out, Jim stopped John McCain, who seemed startled to see him and exclaimed “Jimmy!” When Jim introduced me, John told me Jim is a hero and one of the funniest guys he knows. His wife Cindy and daughter Bridget were there too, and stood on the stage while the candidates spoke, but I couldn’t see them.
Okay, back to refugees now.