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Live From St. Paul, It’s A… Convention?

This week we’ll be coming to you from the UpTake New Media Space, a stone’s throw and 20-minute walk from the Xcel Center here in St. Paul. The security situation on the streets and barricades is tight, and the streets are relatively empty the day before. The couple of delegates I’ve spoken with seem uncertain what to expect in the coming days, now that Monday is a mere formality. The good news, say the delegates, is the parties go forward as planned.

Initial impressions: Ron Paul is also in town. Man oh man. These folks are energized and ready to rumble. Just don’t get into a political conversation with them, or be prepared for this.

The fact that Bush isn’t appearing tomorrow due to Gustav was welcome news to a delegate I spoke with from Texas. He wants McCain to win, and realizes the Bush brand is dragging down the ticket. The handful of delegates I’ve spoken with have expressed a fair degree of practicality in analyzing what has to be accomplished at this convention. McCain must appear to be a maverick, because the country (unfairly, they believe) blames Republicans for most or all of the problems of the last eight years. Even though Democrats are equally or more to blame in reality, they say, they know the country isn’t ready to hear that truth, so the convention has to come across as a new direction for the Republican Party.

Palin is viewed very favorably in my limited survey. On the experience issue, the party line is that any governor experience, however brief, trumps all legislative experience that Obama has. And Palin will learn on the job behind McCain, whereas Obama would be president immediately and his inexperience is a problem.

In ambience/environmental news, there aren’t as many silly hats, though the Texas folks were wearing cowboy hats and Texas-flag shirts. The Young Republicans milling about near the hotel lobbies wore suits and smirked at the anti-war signholders. But in the Starbucks near the security checkpoint, I overheard a Republican security detail guy pick up a Democratic barista for a Monday night date, so who says red and blue cannot come together?


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