Convention Blogging Archives

July 27, 2004

Captain's Quarters Invited To Republican Convention!

I am thrilled to announce that I received an invitation from the Republican National Convention to represent the blogging community when George Bush is nominated for a second term! The Committee on Arrangements sent out the invitations this evening: For the first time, bloggers will hold an on-site presence at the Republican National Convention called "Bloggers Corner." Positioned near Radio Row, credentialed bloggers will have the opportunity to connect with delegates, guests and other surrogates for interviews, and to provide original content, including multimedia, to their audiences. Through this behind-the-scenes look at the convention's proceedings and events, bloggers will play an important role in telling the story of the 2004 Republican Convention. Bloggers Corner will be located in Madison Square Garden's Theater Lobby in the corridor adjacent to Radio Row. Electrical outlets, tabled work stations and necessary hook-ups for laptop and other portable computers will be available for high-speed Internet...

July 28, 2004

If I Was President, All Of You Would Kill Me

I'm watching the Democratic convention right now, and although I can hardly believe it, the Dems have presented a film ("If I Had A Minute With The President") in which children give George Bush advice on policy. It's like asking Amy Carter her advice on the most pressing issue of the day about 100 times over. No wonder they invited Jimmy Carter back to the convention this year! No, none of them identified nuclear proliferation as the biggest problem in the world, but we got to hear about animal habitats, racism, the homeless, and so on. If you're inclined to take your political advice from 12-year-olds, the Democrats are the party for you! As if that weren't bad enough, former Denver mayor Wellington Webb then introduced singer Wyclef Jean to sing a song as a companion piece. Now, I haven't paid a lot of attention to the sideshow acts at...

Al Sharpton Fires Them Up

Sharpton veers far from his approved speech to attack George Bush on prime time, continuing the Festival of Bile at the Fleet Center.

Bob Graham Cools Them Off

Bob Graham has killed all the momentum that Al Sharpton provided with his emotional and raw attack speech on George Bush. His problem is part content and part delivery. He's almost as exciting as John Kerry, and that's no compliment. First, he compared the first 1000 days of WWII to the War on Terror, saying we have not even established a beachhead. Perhaps that's because this isn't an amphibious war, Senator. We've managed to liberate 50 million people, though, something we couldn't claim in WWII until far later. Then he said that proposals to fix security holes still haven't been implemented 1,000 days after 9/11, but he failed to mention that the bipartisan commission insisted upon by the Democrats only delivered those recommendations last week. I was going to live-blog his speech, but it's very hard to do that when I keep falling asleep. He's managed to stomp out all...

Edwards Blinks -- A Lot

I'm watching the John Edwards speech, having missed the first few minutes of it, and am not terribly impressed. He's a good speaker but not terribly energizing. He takes a more conversational approach, and the constant cheering seems a bit strained to me. Only at a few points was it matched by a high point in his speech. "Hope Is On The Way" -- are they implying that Clinton will replace John Kerry? After all, he was the Man From Hope. Maybe that's what they're hoping for from John Jr, but while he speaks more naturally than John Sr, I just don't think it's much more than a typical smooth politico's voice. And I don't know if the stagehands put a spot directly behind the camera, but whenever Edwards looked straight ahead, he either blinked constantly or squinted his eyes. It got to be distracting, as though he was either...

Here's Another Guy Who Got His RNC Credentials

CNN reports on another new-media kind of guy who got credentials to the Republican National Convention next month in New York City: [CNN's Tom] Foreman: Are you going to go to the Republican convention? [Michael] Moore: Yes, I am. I already have my credentials. Foreman: How do you think you'll be received there? Moore: I think it will be fine. Are you implying that Republicans are not nice people? Michael Moore, the auteur who brought you Fahrenheit 9/11, has been credentialed as a columnist for USA Today, who earlier felt that Ann Coulter was too incendiary for publication. I suppose they feel no reservations about Moore's well-known track record for making things up and pulling facts out of context and twisting them to his own purposes. Perhaps I'll get a chance to interview Moore. I have my copy of Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man; I'll be...

July 29, 2004

The Main Event

OK, I may be taking most of the evening off, but I'm not going to miss a chance to live-blog this. Kerry just hugged a bunch of guys who look like they prefer handshakes, and now he's thanking the crowd. Here we go (all times CT): 9:12 - I'm reporting for duty? With a salute? Out of uniform? That was lame ... 9:14 - So far, he's no Barack Obama. He's home. We get it. 9:15 - Cute joke about the West Wing. Made me smile. 9:15 - "Trees as the cathedral of nature". Hug a cathedral today. 9:18 - Those of you who had the 6-minute square in the Jack Kennedy reference pool just won the kitty. So far, not too bad. He's got some energy and a bit of humor, although he just hit the trust and credibility meme. 9:21 - Now he's going senatorial ... "I will...

July 30, 2004

Minnesota DFL Upholds Midwestern Values

Well, you can't say that the Minnesota delegation to the Democratic convention did anything to hurt the reputation of Midwesterners, although they may have reinforced a couple of stereotypes while in Beantown. The Star-Tribune's Kevin Duchschere reports that the Party apparatchiks were hardly party animals: Boston is one of the nation's most historic cities -- and it's apparently gone largely unseen by members of the Minnesota delegation. Unlike at other recent national conventions, it seems that most of them spent their time attending campaign training workshops, interest-group caucuses and forums, DFL spokesman Bill Amberg said. "The stakes are sky-high and people are amazingly focused," he said. "Half the delegates come back to the hotel, have a beer and go to bed." Probably at 8 pm, because Lord knows, those cows ain't gonna milk themselves....

On Second Thought, Maybe They're All Cheap

After the largest party that Boston's seen in decades, the Los Angeles Times reports that the hangover may be arriving -- and unfortunately for the Democrats and Mayor Thomas Menino, it will be much larger than first anticipated: In a full-page ad in the city's two major newspapers, Mayor Thomas M. Menino offered residents a weekend of free parking, free concerts, discounted shopping even reduced rates on Boston's quirky duck tours, amphibious vessels that are a quintessential tourist attraction. ... The goodwill gesture came in response to bitter complaints about disappointing revenue and angry questions about the benefits of bringing 35,000 people to town for the Democratic National Convention. Officials Thursday stood by predictions that the first national nominating convention in the city's history would bring $154 million to Boston in a year's time. Experts on urban economics also said political conventions could be windfalls to the cities that...

August 8, 2004

NY Security Procedures Get Criticized For Displacing The Homeless

When securing an area for high-risk events, it is common practive to evict any loiterers, as terrorists or criminals can easily hide themselves among them. The Republican National Convention is no different, and since the venue itself sits on top of Penn Station -- a prime terrorist target at any time -- it makes sense that the FBI and other national-security agencies will clear the area of all but those who have a reason to be there. Unfortunately, since this is the Republican convention, the media reports this basic security concept as a heartless blow to the homeless: .W. Ballantine, a 77-year-old homeless man, already sleeps most nights in Penn Station and eats many of his meals in neighborhood soup kitchens. But Ballantine's life is about to get much harder now that the Republican National Convention is coming to Madison Square Garden, directly on top of the train station where...

August 27, 2004

Why Can't Kossy Read?

After the Wall Street Journal published its profile of the accredited bloggers to the Republican National Convention, I expected a bit of blogosphere critique on the selections. After all, with so many excellent bloggers to be found, arguments can be made for inclusion at the expense of any of us who were fortunate enough to be chosen for the privilege. What I didn't expect was silly, superficial, and factually deficient crabbing like this found at the Daily Kos, this one from Kos himself. Here's Kos' idea of insightful commentary: Boy, did those conservative bloggers whine, whine, whine when the Big Bad DNC didn't accredit enough of them at our convention. Yet the Democratic Party did invite several conservatives, as well as non-political tech-focused bloggers. None of that at the RNC convention. Not that they should allow Dem bloggers in (I was always clear that only partisan bloggers should've been admitted...

August 29, 2004

Dan Rather Reports The Non-News

Even before I get to the Republican convention -- I'm blogging from the Humphrey Terminal at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport -- I'm discovering how useless the mainstream media will be at this convention. Drudge links back to what could be described as Dan Rather's blog, and he manages to make it even more content-free than his news broadcasts. As an example, here's the first entry for Rather today at his Convention Journal site: Not much of it, really. Only a few people besides workmen inside the hall. Among the few who were there, the most popular topic of conversation was whether President Bush might surprise and announce during the convention that Vice President Cheney would not be running with him this year. This rumor has swirled around a bit from time to time throughout the year, the chatter being that Mr. Bush would prefer to run with Sen. John McCain ...

Several Unfunny Things Happened To Me On The Way To The Forum

NEW YORK CITY, 10:56 PM ET: I have finally eaten dinner on what had to have been one of the longest and most frustrating travel days in my life. The fact that I'm blogging is in itself a minor miracle. Earlier today, while I was airport blogging about the vacuity of Dan Rather, I received a very kind and generous e-mail from two CQ readers (husband & wife) who wanted to make a large donation for the trip but had been stymied by the Amazon system. They wanted to pay for part of my hotel room instead, so I told them where I was staying. Fortunately I was on line when I got a reply. They had called the hotel and found out that they'd canceled my reservation -- and the airport had just announced preboarding for my flight. I got on my cell phone and called the Hotel Pennsylvania's...

August 30, 2004

Takin' It To The Streets

The New York Times reports on what I missed with my late arrival yesterday, the day before the opening of the Republican National Convention, but the unnerving effects of having a half-million people in the street certainly accounts for the tension I felt on my arrival: A roaring two-mile river of demonstrators surged through the canyons of Manhattan yesterday in the city's largest political protest in decades, a raucous but peaceful spectacle that pilloried George W. Bush and demanded regime change in Washington. On a sweltering August Sunday, the huge throng of protesters marched past Madison Square Garden, the site of the Republican National Convention opening today, and denounced President Bush as a misfit who had plunged America into war and runaway debt, undermined civil and constitutional rights, lied to the people, despoiled the environment and used the presidency to benefit corporations and millionaires. The protest organizer, United for Peace...

The Calm Before The Storm

I had an opportunity to get out on the street early this morning when I went downstairs to get a much-needed cup of coffee to bolster my blogging. I took a few pictures that were necessarily a bit fuzzy, as the light was still pretty faint and the flash resulted in poor illumination of the scenery. You can see the calm on the streets that likely will be absent during the day today, as more traffic and protests will jam the sidewalks around the convention site. The first picture is from the hotel looking down 33rd, and has the Empire State Building in the background. You can see that the street itself is completely barricaded: This picture is straight across from the Hotel Pennsylvania, where they're allowing vehicle traffic for the moment. I expect this to be barricaded later on today: In order to get in and out of the...

Inside Blogger's Corner

We're busy setting up our connections here on Blogger's Corner and having the normal IS issues experienced by anyone who uses LANs. The convention is making their best efforts to get the problems straightened out, but in the meantime I've found a wireless portal that works for the moment. Right now I'm sharing a table with some pretty impressive bloggers -- Kevin Aylward from Wizbang, Matt Margolis from Blogs For Bush, and Scott Sala from Slant Point. I already caught up with Generalissimo Duane and we're sitting directly across from the Salem booth. I've met Tony Snow from Fox, who immediately recognized my name -- which floored me. I'll report later on the breakfast with Matthew Dowd and the interesting speech and Q & A we had this morning....

Mayor Koch Visits Blogger's Corner

Former New York Mayor and "lifelong Democrat" Ed Koch paid a visit to Blogger's Corner and spoke about his support of George Bush. The mayor started off informally by asking us whether we would consider his weekly e-mail columns to be the equivalent of blogging, which we unanimously rejected. We think he'll be blogging in the next couple of months. The mayor took a few questions from the collected RNC bloggers, which I will do my best to transcribe in this noisy environment: Q: You came out for Bush early on in this race, Mayor. A: 2002. Q: Why so early? A: I believe I was the first to use the term "Bush Doctrine" in my commentary ... I don't agree with him on any domestic issues, taxes, Social Security, abortion, you name it ... Q: Education? A: Maybe education, although I think he's underfunded it. But I said, all...

Ken Mehlman on John Kerry: The Rip Van Winkel Campaign

Ken Mehlman of the Bush campaign stopped off at Bloggers Corner for a quick chat with us. I dropped into the middle of the conversation, in time to catch this priceless description of Kerry's run from his Senate record: Here's the thing. If you spent the last 20 years raising taxes, voting 350 times for higher taxes, and you spent the last 20 years voting against the weapons systems that were the key to winning the cold war, that are key to winning the war on terror, you missed three out of four Intelligence Committee meetings, then voted to pull $5 billion out of intelligence, when you say that a girl in school need parental consent to get [unintellible] but not for an abortion -- if that's your record, you'd also run from it. From the beginning, their campaign has been the one where the last 20 years didn't happen,...

Blog Conference: Ari Fleischer

The bloggers have been assisted by the RNC to bring newsmakers by Bloggers Corner in order to answer questions, and earlier in the day we spoke with former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. The bloggers here have defaulted to an understanding that the guests which all of us want to interview participate in a blogger press conference, where we all toss out questions and we transcribe the answers. This is why you're not seeing ID on the questions; at CQ, I'm treating everyone (including myself) as a generic interviewer. You can hear the audio of these interviews on Blogs For Bush, as Matt Margolis posts them. Q: Is it a relief to be out of the spokesman job? A: There are times I miss it. Times like this, when you get the big moments like when the president went to Baghdad, I would have really loved to go to that....

Our Visit With Miss America

You almost have to picture this as a moment of high irony, but the current Miss America, Erika Harold, paid a visit to Bloggers Corner. Why a beautiful and intelligent young woman (as we soon discovered Erika to be) would want to hang out with the computer geeks escapes me, but she gave us a delightful and insightful interview that completely negates any preconceptions about beauty-pageant contestants you ever held. Erika spoke at length about her battle to speak out about abstinence as a major part of her Miss America mission to reduce the spread of HIV and other diseases, especially in lower-income schools. Erika told us that individuals within the Miss America program became uncomfortable with her approach, taking care to avoid any hint of controversy. However, Erika stuck to her guns, showing the mettle she will need when she starts her first term next week at Harvard Law...

August 31, 2004

The Kerry Conundrum Squeezes North Carolina Governor

Last night before John McCain took the floor, I had an opportunity to spend a few minutes with Warren Cooksey, Vice Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Republican Party and an alternate to North Carolina's delegation. He noticed that I was a blogger, and after introducing myself, Warren proclaimed himself a new but devoted fan to Captain's Quarters. Naturally, this helped our conversation! I asked Warren about the selection of John Edwards as Kerry's running mate and whether that would have an impact on the state in the presidential race. Bush won North Carolina by 13 points in 2000, but that had narrowed considerably this year until just recently, due to the economic conditions in the state. Warren feels that Edwards would have no effect on the outcome in his home state, although it had seemed to give Kerry a little momentum earlier, if you read the polls. As analysts outside...

The Keynote Speeches of 8/30: John McCain

I had the opportunity to make it to the floor to see the last three speeches of the day, as bloggers took turns going into the hall to make sure Bloggers Corner remained staffed. Tom Bevan, John Hinderaker, and I sat with the North Carolina delegation to see John McCain speak on behalf of President Bush, in a speech that has been highly anticipated ever since Kerry's abortive run at McCain for running mate boosted the Arizona Senator's credibility among both parties. McCain did not disappoint. I supported McCain in 2000, and while he's a bit stiff at the podium, his gentle voice played well in invoking the tragedy of 9/11 -- a subject that the Democrats avoided in their convention, and one which they will protest the Republicans using in New York. However, how can they avoid it? It would be akin to a failure to mention the elephant...

The Keynote Speeches of 8/30: Rudy Giuliani

Perhaps even more than John McCain, Rudy Giuliani's appearance at the convention had been the subject of much conjecture beforehand. His prominence in the schedule indicated to analysts that the Republicans would not run away from 9/11, and Democrats warned the GOP against "exploiting" the terrorist attacks. Given that they went through their entire convention without mentioning it at all, they obviously wanted Americans to forget it ever happened. But Rudy was there when and where the buildings fell. Giuliani understands better than most what's at stake in this election. He knows what happens when people pretend that terrorism doesn't exist and when dangers are ignored. And he isn't planning on letting anyone forget about it. In one of the most effective and personal wide-audience speeches I've ever seen -- it even got grudging admiration from former Dean advisor and MS-NBC analyst Joe Trippi afterwards -- Giuliani described in stark...

Day 1: Final Thoughts

Our first day on the job provided challenges in droves to Bloggers Corner. For one, the IT connections had not all been established, and it took several hours before all of us were able to reliably get on line and post to our sites. Our strategic placement meant that we could get some good interviews, but that our access to the convention floor was quite limited. In fact, we have to traverse four flights, one down and three up, to get into the main hall, and then we can't get onto the floor itself. Add in the generally lost feeling of not knowing your surroundings and the overwhelming blitz of traffic coming around our area, add a dash of the tightest security I've ever seen, and you get the idea that we could be forgiven a bit of disorientation. On the whole, after reviewing our work as a group yesterday,...

Blogging Coverage: Open Thread

I received this e-mail from a reader last night when I returned to my hotel room: You, and all the rest of the bloggers at the convention, are making the same mistake as the bloggers in Boston. You are all sounding like, "whee, look at me! I'm a hick in the "Big Apple!" Do some professional reporting. Make us proud! Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts. Bear in mind, however, that conventions rarely generate "news" stories. The value, I think, is in the background we can provide on candidates, issues, and back-scenes machinery that most people rarely see. I'm anxious to get a sense of what you think, so fire away....

An Oasis In A Dry Garden

One of the challenges we faced yesterday was the lack of beverages available at the Garden, an unusual problem that I hadn't anticipated. I assumed that we would have all of the concession stands open, but they seem to be closed, presumably to simplify security for the convention. Stepping into the breach to soothe dry throats is Political Grounds, which describes itself as "America's Politically-Incorrect Coffee". They've set up a booth giving away free bottled water and very good cups of coffee to anyone who wants to stop by their booth. Julie also gave me a pound of their coffee, which comes in eight varieties. I selected Osama's Mama, which states that it's "dedicated to our fighting men and women searching those caves for the evil one who brought us the events of 9-11. Only a mother with a foot-long beard could love this guy. Osama, where's your mama?" How...

Being The Story

While we have not had to deal with the overwhelming media interest that bedeviled the Boston convention bloggers, we are getting our share of attention, especially given our proximity to Radio Row. Yesterday I made a last-minute appearance on Hugh Hewitt's show, along with John Hinderaker, and we may appear again there. Right now, both of us are being interviewed by our hometown paper, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, by reporter Sharon Schmickle. Later today, I am also scheduled to appear on Kevin McCullough's show around 2:45 and I'll also call in to Cam Edwards show around 3:20 this afternoon, and supposedly I'm appearing on Right Talk, but that looks like it's falling through. The only danger in getting too caught up in this attention is that we lose focus on our own stories. I think as the convention heats up, everyone but Hugh and Kevin will lose most of their interest...

Rumble In The Blogger Jungle: Hannity Vs. McAuliffe

An interesting confrontation took place just in front of Bloggers Corner a few minutes ago. Sean Hannity has a booth just a few feet from our tables, and we've had front-row seating for his show yesterday, today, and the rest of this week, too. While on the air, Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe passed by the booth -- on his way to the Air America table, no doubt, which is located right around the corner from our booth. The two of them began yelling at each other, with Hannity demanding that Kerry apologize to the vets he smeared since 1971 as war criminals. McAuliffe finally walked off, laughing, but people stood and looked at each other, surprised at having seen real news (of a sort) occur at a political convention. Georgia Senator Zell Miller is on air with Hannity at the moment, and he looks sharp. I can't wait to...

General Tommy Franks: I Support Bush For President

General Tommy Franks announced today that he will support George Bush for president at our blog conference at the Republican National Convention. Q: General, do you support George Bush for President? A: Yes. Q: With regards to consistency, did George Bush hurt himself with his remarks on Matt Lauer that maybe we can't win a war on terror? A: Absolutely not. We won a Cold War, didn't we? And we didn't do that in 15 minutes. Q: Did Ronald Reagan show that kind of doubt in his effort to win the Cold War? A: I don't know that there was any doubt shown at all. I think that we're talking about consistency, and persistency, and anybody who looks at this thing over the last three and a half years is going to have a heck of a hard time trying to point out when he was not consistent or persistent....

Hugh Hewitt: Terry McAuliffe On Hugh's Show

You can listen at this link. UPDATE: Hugh slaughtered McAuliffe. I don't have any of the audio, but I can tell you from being there and listening, that Hugh took him out. First off, he got McAuliffe to admit that his job is to tell everyone that Kerry's winning regardless of whether it's true. He also folded on Christmas in Cambodia. As always with Hugh, everyone parted friends ... but those of us who were nearby the interview knew it went badly for McAuliffe. What can he do? He's been dealt a loser hand. UPDATE II: More lefty meltdowns, this one from last night (at Wizbang). Apparently Al Franken wants to get elected to the Senate by garnering the bully vote....

Lynn Swann Supports Bush!

I grew up a rabid Pittsburgh Steelers fan, ever since I watched the Immaculate Reception in the playoff game against the Oakland Raiders. One of the best players on the team that won four Super Bowls was the incredibly acrobatic wide receiver, Lynn Swann. Despite having gone to USC, Swann had a grace and determination on the field that not only won him a spot in the Hall of Fame, but almost definitely made him one of the best slow-motion reply subjects ever in sports. We found out yesterday that Swann would be appearing at the convention, one of a number of celebrities that have made their way to New York to support the President's re-election bid. I've been careful about fan-boy posts, but in this case, I hope my readers will forgive me for ensuring that this moment gets archived for posterity....

Blogging From The Convention Floor - Michael Steele

I am in in the auditorium with the delegates (in the stands, not on the floor), and so far, I have a connection with which to blog. With any luck, I'll be able to live-blog the two keynote speakers for tonight's main event: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Laura Bush. Right now, I'm watching the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Michael Steele. This man impresses the heck out of me. He connects to the audience in personal terms, but he easily charged up the crowd with a wonderful crescendo as he discussed his values and the values of the GOP. Completely at ease at the podium, he seems to be a man with a future in the party. Steele works extensively in the media, both alternate and mainstream. He writes for such varied publications as the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Times, and more. He also appears on the radio in...

8/31 Keynote Speaker: Arnold Schwarzenegger

10:03 Arnold is speaking now, talking about his immigrant experiences. He opened with a two jokes about himself and his acting, and one barb at the Democrats. 10:04 However, he now is speaking about the fear he felt as a young child, living in dread of the "Soviet boot" -- and he has fired up the crowd, reminding them that the Austrians are only free due to American determination and resolve, the first indication that he will emphasize the need for those qualities now... 10:06 He openly talked about Richard Nixon as a "breath of fresh air" for a young boy yearning for freedom. Interesting; the crowd has no qualms about evoking Richard Nixon. 10:09 Arnold continually refers to his immigrant status. It appears to be his theme, and he's tying it to a big-tent theme. Of course, Arnold represents the more liberal wing of the party. Now he's about...

8/31 Keynote Speaker: Laura Bush

10:25 An introduction for the First Lady by her twin daughters has started off very well, although they're clearly nervous. They've poked fun at themselves, their grandmother, their father, Dick Cheney, Sex And The City, Karl Rove, Condi Rice, and Karen Hughes. They're having fun doing a tag-team comedy routine ... 10:30 "We had a hamster, too. Let's just say it didn't make it." 10:32 A surprise -- George Bush is live on satellite to complete the introduction. I wonder has this happened before, where a candidate appeared before the nomination? At least during the modern, scripted era of conventions? 10:35 Laura is on now, thanking the Bush family. The former President and First Lady, George and Barbara, held up We Love Laura signs. ... 10:37 "Why do you think we should re-elect your husband as president?" An interesting way to frame her speech. It makes sense, as a First...

September 1, 2004

Final Thoughts From Day 2

HOTEL PENN, 12:16 AM -- It doesn't take much imagination to know on what subject tongues will wag tonight and tomorrow, and it won't be an analysis of Arnold's speech. Instead, talking heads will focus on the performance of the Bush twins, introducing their mother's keynote speech for Day Two at the RNC. Inevitably, the girls will be compared to John Kerry's children and stepson, and just as surely they will suffer in the comparison ... and it's unfair. True, I would have held them back a bit from treating the introduction as a wedding toast, which was one criticism I heard (sotto voce) in the Garden on the way out. But that would mean having them put on an act, which would have seemed a lot more phony. The one quality that strikes people most about the Bushes is their genuine nature, in that they don't pretend to be...

Salon Takes A Few Cheap Shots

Mark Follman at Salon.com writes a review of the credentialed RNC bloggers for the Wednesday edition, and he doesn't much like what he's reading (registration or ad torture required). Follman points out that we bloggers set our expectations high and argues that we've failed to even try to meet them: The bloggers, in brief interviews with the Journal, promised some big things themselves. After a good bit of hemming and hawing about their counterparts' failure to turn out any meaningful coverage at the Democratic get-together in Boston, the cutting-edge RNC crew pledged to zero in on the important issues in New York. "Readers rightly criticized the number of 'hey, look at me' posts from DNC bloggers," remarked Kevin Aylward, a technology consultant who authors the Wizbang! blog. "I'm aware much of the audience isn't interested in what I had for dinner and what my hotel room is like." "Being there...

Ron Fournier: Democrats In Disarray

Ron Fournier, AP's premier political analyst, catches a whiff of desperation at Campaign Kerry as his numbers continue to erode and the Republicans stage a better convention than they had considered possible. Fournier reports that John Kerry has been bombarded with criticism and advice, much of it contradictory and all of it pointing to rising panic within the Democratic Party: Anxiously watching President Bush's convention, Democratic leaders are urging John Kerry to step up his attack on the Republican incumbent before eroding approval ratings become a serious political problem. The candidate and his beleaguered staff are being flooded with advice, much of it contradictory. Some party officials want Kerry to criticize the president for sitting out the Vietnam War in the Texas Air National Guard. Others say that would draw unwanted attention to accusations about Kerry's combat experience. Democrats have seen Bush erase the gains that their nominee made at...

Shales: I Like Redneck Parties?

Having read Tom Shales' review of the Republican convention thus far, I'm not sure whether to be encouraged or irritated. Shales obviously thinks that the GOP has managed to out-stage the Democrats in putting on "rubber-stamp" conventions, as if we have had any other kind in the last five decades. Shales even notes success in impressing the media. However, he takes several opportunities to sneer down his cheaters at Republicans as a bunch of hicks: People don't commonly associate adjectives like "cool" and "hip" with the Republican Party, but the first broadcast television coverage of this year's convention, from Madison Square Garden in New York last night, revealed the GOP to be more media-hip and glitzy than the Democrats were earlier this summer. ... The message of the Tuesday Night Follies was that Democrats are wimps and Republicans are symbolically still down in Texas fending off the invading army that's...

Senator Alan Simpson: Shy Kerry No Leader

Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson came by Bloggers Corner just a few minutes ago and spoke to the group about liberal Republicanism, the electoral college, the current campaign and its tone, and John Kerry's Senate career. As you might imagine from his press conferences during his tenure in Congress, Senator Simpson spoke directly and even bluntly in responding to our questions. My audio of the interview turned out poorly as Sean Hannity's show insists on blaring out their program over speakers pointed directly at our area, but I can rebuild the important parts. In response to questions regarding the Electoral College, Simpson strongly defended the current structure and explained that any attempt to eliminate it would never pass muster with enough states. Too many smaller states would lose their impact on presidential contests, and as Simpson said, no one would ever see a campaign outside of New York, Chicago, and...

Terry McAuliffe: Kerry In Cambodia -- Twice

In a brief visit to Bloggers Corner, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe told the bloggers that John Kerry was in Cambodia -- twice -- and took fire, while taking the opportunity to get in a dig at George Bush: Q: Does it bother you that the Democrats have nominated a candidate that told a fable about spending Christmas in Cambodia on the floor of the United States Senate? A: John Kerry went to Cambodia twice. He was over in Viet Nam and at one point, as you know, he took some CIA operatives into Cambodia, and he did a lot more than George Bush ever did for his country. George Bush never got to Viet Nam. Q: Mr. McAuliffe, do you have any proof -- A: You said only one question. You're chewing up their time [gesturing to camera crew]. Power Line has the video. Go check it out. And note...

Lunch With Senator Norm Coleman

One of the many distractions that all convention attendees must juggle are the continuous invitations to outside events, which sometimes conflict with convention business. Certainly this is true for the delegates, and it's widely known that if a delegate plays his cards right, he need never pay for a meal. This also applies to the candidates, who must coordinate a flood of invitations by being readily accessible to constituents and supporters on one hand without getting tied down to such a full schedule that it interferes with their ability to network at the convention itself with media, delegates, donors, and so on. I received an invitation to a typical outside event, a lunch given on behalf of Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. Coleman serves as co-chair of the convention, which means that he has certain nominal duties to which he must attend here at the Garden. On this occasion, Coleman was...

Convention Blogging (Via Remote)

Being in Bloggers Corner has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Not only am I in the center of a historic event at a historic location, but the RNC gave us tremendous opportunities by locating us at the entrance of the radio center -- which has been key to our access to some amazing people, including the famous and the yet-to-be famous as well. Some I haven't mentioned simply because I had no opportunity to do anything in-depth with them. For example, today I asked Tim Russert of NBC to stop by and take a few questions from the bloggers as he waited to get on Sean Hannity's radio program. Russert stopped over to say hello and exchange a few pleasantries with us, but he didn't have time to do much more than encourage us with a "Blog on!" Sam Donaldson did much the same thing...

9/1 Keynote Speaker: Zell Miller

10:02 Wild applause; I don't think he expected that. He makes his support for Bush personal. "My family is more important than my party." Great moment. 10:05 Great story about Wendell Wilkie, especially the epitaph. "Where are such statesmen today?" He's on fire. 10:07 Wow, he's tossing bombs at Terry McAuliffe and John Kerry tonight, and his rhetoric has the passion of all his anger. This is powerful stuff, and it sounds like it's built up over a long period of time... 10:08 "It is the soldier, and not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of speech." A series of such linkages are very effective. 10:10 "No pair has been wrong more often over a longer period of time than the two Senators from Massachussetts -- Ted Kennedy and John Kerry." Let me tell you this -- right now, the Democrats are wishing that the networks had carried...

9/1 Keynote Speaker: Dick Cheney

10:20 Lynne Cheney gives the introduction for the Vice President, Dick Cheney. She comes across as sharp, blunt, and likeable. She seems tougher than Laura Bush. In an imperfect comparison, she reminds me stylistically of Katherine Hepburn, while Laura reminds me more of Audrey Hepburn. 10:23 Good reception for the VP, who seems a little amused by it ... 10:25 That was Sarah Janisczak [sp] from Minnesota on screen ... 10:26 And that was Col. Joe Repya from Eagan, MN, who I will feature in an interview later on tonight .. 10:30 Dick Cheney has a much more mellow speaking style than Miller, obviously. After a great, self-deprecating riff on John Edwards get s a laugh, he follows that up with a good policy speech, this time targeting Edwards a bit more bitingly with tort reform... 10:31 Another disturbance on the floor? I'll try to get some information tomorrow ......

Hindrocket And Captain Ed Make News Back Home

I mentioned a few days ago that both John and I were interviewed by the hometown newspaper, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, for a story about Bloggers Corner from a local perspective. Sharon Schmickle turns in a fair and balanced look at the intersection of blogging and big-league politics: It was one thing to watch the cool and sassy Bush twins in television's lights, cracking scripted jokes and teasing their parents about their days of being "young and irresponsible." It was another to see 22-year-old Jenna and Barbara through Captain Ed's analytical filter: "The Bush twins are -- as they said in their speech -- young, irrepressible, and a little immature. Personally, I found their humor a little charming, if overdone. I noticed (former New York Mayor) Rudy Giuliani laughing his butt off at the Sex And The City joke." ... Here's Hinderaker's summary of his first day: "This has been one...

Day 3 Final Thoughts

I don't have a lot to add to what I've already written, but I do have a few thoughts about the tandem of firebrand Zell Miller and the more stoic surgery of Dick Cheney. I've read some who think that the pairing was deliberate -- that the RNC knew how Zell would go after the Democrats and John Kerry, and that the contrast between Miller (who isn't running for anything) and Cheney would emphasize Cheney's reasonableness. It's the kind of counterpoint that could take the edge off of Cheney's unwarranted image as a warmonger. Well, maybe. As Deacon at Power Line says, it may well be that the Republicans attempted to play good cop/bad cop. Unfortunately, if they did, they may have done too good a job, as both men made excellent points in their speeches that their wildly divergent styles will obscure. Miller was especially effective when talking about...

September 2, 2004

Transcript of Zell Miller Vs. Chris Matthews

MS-NBC has posted the transcript of Zell Miller's appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews, during which many of you wrote or commented last night that Zell took the wood to Matthews in a most satisfying way. After reading the transcript, I have to say you were right, and I think that maybe the appearance on Hardball may be even more effective that his appearance at the convention. Miller made it clear that he was not about to allow Matthews to throw strawmen at him as Matthews does with lesser-prepared guests. The turning point occurred early on, as far as I read: MILLER: But I think his record is atrocious. MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, when Democrats come out, as they often do, liberal Democrats, and attack conservatives, and say they want to starve little kids, they want to get rid of education, they want to kill the old people......

Meet The Minnesota Delegation: Kimani Jefferson

I had an opportunity to meet with a member of the Minnesota delegation to the Republican convention last night, Kimani Jefferson, who represents the Anoka area. Kimani spoke for a few minutes with me regarding his transformation from a moderate Democrat to a 9/11 convert to the new national-security-based conservatism, and his enthusiasm for George Bush in 2004. Kimani is a former military officer who served aboard USS LaSalle, based in Italy, after graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1998. CQ: You've gone through this entire [delegate selection] process, which takes quite a bit of effort. What's your motivation for doing that? KJ: My daughter, more than anything else. My daughter is four, and I have another child on the way, November 12th. And I want the Constitution to mean something when she grows up. CQ: What are your big issues here at the convention? KJ: My big issue,...

The Really New Media

While we at Bloggers Corner have been congratulating ourselves on being the New Media here at the convention, this morning I got an opportunity to meet the really new media. Two young journalists for the New York Daily News took a break at Bloggers Corner this morning: Kibuchi Banfield, 17 years old, and Marie Ponsot, 11 years old. The Daily News credentialed them to do some free-lance reporting from the convention, and their work appeared in today's edition (second item): We think if the state is offering the services, it should be responsible for getting residents enrolled. She was talking like people are totally independent from the federal government. Plus, schools are busy enough trying to meet testing standards without doing extra work. Maybe older teens can help younger kids get health insurance through a community service project. But an uninsured child under the age of 5 can't be responsible...

CQ Interviews Congressman Steve Pearce, NM

While Bloggers Corner stayed relatively quiet this morning, a few people have come by to take advantage of the open chairs here. One of them was Congressman Steve Pearce of New Mexico's 2nd District, who took a few minutes to speak with me today. CQ: Good morning, Congressman. Which district do you represent? SP: New Mexico's 2nd District, the southern district of New Mexico, about 70,000 square miles. It takes about nine hours to drive across it. CQ: What do you think about the chances of Bush taking New Mexico this time around? SP: Chances are very good. Last time we lost by 366 votes, but there was an unprecedented snowstorm on Election Day, and the snowstorm occurred only on the eastern side of the state, where the Republicans are. On the western side of the state, where it's 25% Republican, they didn't have any snow. We lost 10,000 votes...

Blog Conference: J. C. Watts

Former Congressman and Republican activist J. C. Watts visited with a few of us at Bloggers Corner. After his appearance on Hardball along with Zell Miller last night, we anticipated speaking to him about the exchange between Miller and host Chris Matthews, which we eventually discussed. However, Watts spoke at length on a number of issues, especially Republican outreach to black communities. In fact, the interview went into such depth that I think a transcript may run too long. I'll recap and quote where appropriate. We started off discussing GOPAC, the Republican political-action committee dedicated to promoting grassroots growth for the GOP. Watts currently serves as its chairman, and he talked about how the 1994 Republican victory in capturing the House may have made the GOP too "fat and sassy" about its majority. He talked about the need to get away from the idea that Republicans (or anyone) can just...

No Enthusiasm? How To Miss A Story

I met Chris Suellentrop as we both came through security checkpoints together on Monday and were both held up by colleagues having difficulty with the metal detectors. That's how I know Chris actually attended the Republican convention; he's a nice guy and chatted us up for a few minutes while we waited. Because if I had to rely on his reporting to confirm his attendance, I'd have to assume him to be a no-show. In Slate today, Chris writes about a lack of enthusiasm among Republican delegates that has managed to escape my notice: One of the most striking things about watching the Republican National Convention from inside Madison Square Garden has been the lack of enthusiasm among the delegates on the floor. When they formally, and unanimously, nominated George W. Bush as their party's presidential nominee Wednesday at the conclusion of the roll call of the states, the delegates...

Just Got Back From The Garden

If you're wondering why you haven't heard from me, it's because I just walked back to the hotel from Madison Square Garden. For some reason -- I suspect for security considerations -- no unsecured wireless networks were available from my seat at the Garden, and I wasn't about to head back to a television in Bloggers Corner for the President's speech. I'm getting a bite to eat and then I'll review my voice notes and post my thoughts on the main events tonight....

9/2: The Opening Acts -- Masters Of Adjustment

As I stated earlier, I was prevented from live blogging by the sudden lack of an unsecured wireless network in the Garden. Instead, I relied on a digital voice recorder and my fresh memories of the speeches that the Republicans presented as a run-up to George Bush's acceptance speech. After a few preliminaries, we discovered the first, and rather poorly-kept, secret of the evening: former General Tommy Franks had been added to the program. Franks had publicly endorsed Bush for re-election on Tuesday, an unexpected development first reported by the RNC bloggers. That interview seemed like a warm-up to the speech, as many of the same themes that came through in our talk wound up in his speech. I anticipated that Franks would be popular with the crowd, but he was even more successful than I'd have guessed. Franks speaks excellently and offered little in smooth words; he sounded like...

9/2 Keynote Speakers: Gov. George Pataki

Governor George Pataki opened for President Bush, a spot in the lineup guaranteed him by his position as the highest-ranking Republican in the state of New York. Once again, as on Tuesday night, the Republicans may have been better off by eschewing tradition in this convention and swapping Pataki for Giuliani's Monday-night speech. That arrangement would have allowed one of the weakest speakers in their lineup to play leadoff, where expectations would have been lower, while also putting one of the best speakers in prime time with President Bush, giving a spirited defense of the war on terror. Not that Pataki was bad -- but I would describe his performance, and his voice especially, as weak. At times, at least in the Garden, he was almost inaudible, even though the crowd gave him all their attention. He did manage to mix it up and even became inspiring on occasion, but...

September 3, 2004

9/2 Acceptance Speech: George W. Bush

As anyone could tell you, this speech carried tremendous expectations for George Bush, and not just because of its national exposure. For one thing, the external expectations of surviving the convention put the onus on the Bush adminstration to ensure security and to eliminate the possibility of having visited another tragedy on New York City. Also, since Bush has a reputation as both a dunderhead and an atrocious public speaker, he needed a flawless delivery and a tone-perfect speech. I think he succeeded admirably on all counts. Not that he's free from all criticism, of course. Most noticeable was the running time of the speech. We had been led to believe that it would be about 45 minutes, about the same run time as his appearance two weeks ago in Saint Paul. Instead, he spoke for almost an hour and a half, and at a couple of points during the...

9/2 Convention Finale: Sideshow Bobs

My analysis would not be complete -- and I'm dangerously low on sleep, so I want to get to 'complete' soon -- without mentioning the disturbances during the evening in the Garden. Three different protestors managed to get by the extraordinarily tight security at the Garden. One man wound up getting arrested before George Bush even spoke, and found himself rapidly escorted from the auditorium. He exposed an undershirt, I believe, with an anti-Bush slogan and started shouting, but it didn't take long (a few seconds) before he got taken out the door. The second and third incidents occurred when Bush spoke to the audience, although if you were watching on TV, you may have missed both. If you recall two times when spontaneous chants of "Four More Years" erupted when it didn't appear that Bush had paused for an applause break, that's when the protests took place. The first...

The Big Apple Does It All

Just as when I arrived in New York, I wound up overcoming a couple of obstacles getting back out. When I woke up this morning ,I had overslept by over two hours, and I barely had time to get showered and packed so I could catch a cab to JFK. For those who don't know, taking a cab from midtown Manhattan to JFK (in Queens) isn't a quick journey; there's a good reason it's price-fixed at $45. I just got home and haven't even yet unpacked anything but the computer, but I wanted to write about my experience in New York before I take a nap. My last visit to New York was in 1974 when I was eleven years old -- in fact, I think I turned 11 while I was there, or just before. I recall almost nothing about that trip, or at least I didn't before I...

Blog Conference: Ari Fleischer, Part II

Earlier this week, I posted part of a blog conference we conducted with former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. Fleischer gave us quite a bit of his time, and when I posted it, I had not yet transcribed the rest of the interview. Originally I had intended to simply update the post, but after listening to the recording, I found Fleischer's remarks in the rest of the interview so interesting that I figured it would be a shame to bury them in the archives. Q: What effect do think the 527s have had on this election? A: I think it's almost made a mockery of campaign finance reform. We were warned this was going to happen. The parties are more accountable to the people. These organizations aren't accountable ... People should have seen this coming. Q: Were you surprised that the Swiftboat ads were effective given their lack of...

Minnesota Delegate: Colonel Joe Repya

One of the most fascinating parts of going to a convention has to be the people you meet. I met some very memorable men and women at the RNC in New York, but perhaps no one more memorable or admirable as a man who lives almost around the corner from me in Eagan. Lt. Colonel Joe Repya has served his country in five decades of military action, starting as an infantry officer in Viet Nam. Joe became politically active last year as war grew near in Iraq, when he distributed "Liberate Iraq" yard signs around the Twin Cities in response to signs opposing the war effort sent out by groups like International ANSWER. Joe did more than send out signs -- he also requested a return to active duty, and has traveled to Iraq and met with troops there, working with them to ensure the success of America's mission. In...

September 4, 2004

Winning The Ratings War, And Why

In a sign that the Republican base may be more fired up than the Bush-haters on the left, Nielsen Media Research reported that the RNC garnered 3 million more viewers than the Democratic Party's convention in July -- and that viewership at Fox far outstripped the three traditional broadcast networks: Nearly 28 million Americans -- more than a quarter of them watching cable's Fox News Channel alone -- tuned in to see Bush accept his nomination for a second term at the climax of the Republican National Convention on Thursday, according to Nielsen Media Research. Bush's national TV audience topped Kerry's speech at the Democratic convention in July by just over 3 million viewers, among those watching Big Three commercial networks ABC, CBS and NBC and the three leading cable news outlets -- Fox, CNN and MSNBC. The Republican meeting as a whole also drew bigger audiences than the Democrats,...

Kevin McCullough Defends Bloggers Corner

One of the people with whom I had a chance to spend some time was Kevin McCullough, a radio talk-show host in New York as well as a columnist for WorldNetDaily and a blogger to boot. Kevin invited me on his show and I had a great time talking blogs for a quick segment. Kevin wanted me back later, but unfortunately pressing schedules for both of us made that impossible. However, Kevin spent a lot of time at Bloggers Corner and we had some great conversations regarding media and the dawn of the blogosphere's political influence. In yesterday's WND column, Kevin reviews the media response at the RNC and has especially harsh words for Salon and Mark Follman's superficial and transparently self-serving flagellation of the RNC bloggers: On Tuesday, Mark Follman of leftist news website Salon.com released an op-ed that raged of "Internet traffic envy." Follman, obviously put off by...

November 23, 2004

Guantanamo On The Hudson?

Lawyers have descended upon New York City to file a flurry of lawsuits over the measures taken by the Big Apple to ensure security during the Republican National Convention. Both the New York Times and the AP file reports today describing the mass detention of 1800 protestors as a "Guantanamo" that amounted to cruel and unusual punishment: The federal lawsuit claims protesters and bystanders alike were rounded up in mass arrests without cause; were kept without access to their lawyers or families at an old bus depot used as a temporary detention center; and were exposed for days to cruel and inhuman conditions. The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages. "All that was missing were the orange jumpsuits," lawyer Jonathan C. Moore said. "Under the guise of terrorism and the fear of terrorism, we are all losing our rights." The Times reports an even more hysterical set of allegations: The suit,...

October 2, 2006

Convention Security 'Bigger Than The Super Bowl'

Think of it as the hangover after an awards celebration. In the aftermath of winning the Republican National Convention, the magnitude of the security preparations has dawned on state and local officials. Estimates of personnel go between 5,000 and 10,000 police officers, while the Twin Cities currently employ 1,400 combined: Security will be the biggest concern -- and the biggest expense -- for the convention, with plans for as many as 10,000 officers to be deployed and $50 million to be spent to protect delegates, media and high-profile politicians. "Everything we do is different after 9/11," said Rob Allen, a deputy chief with the Minneapolis Police Department. "A Twins playoff game, a Vikings game, a parade, all are different. You can't turn back the clock on how you do security." Although the Twin Cities has attracted larger crowds -- such as at the 1992 Super Bowl -- it has never...