Archive for August 2008
Well … here goes entry number one from the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-Saint Paul.
It seems as though it were just four years ago the Missouri delegation to the Republican National Convention in New York stayed at the luxurious Westin Times Square – just a 20 minute walk from Madison Square Garden. Of course … it was just four years ago.
This year, Missourians are staying at the Ramada Inn … and Water Park! There’s nothing like checking into a hotel room that has wet floors because the previous guests were here to enjoy the fabulous Ramada Inn … and Water Park.
I kid … because I can. In all seriousness, we have learned that while the Missouri delegation might be closer to Winnipeg, Manitoba than to Saint Paul, Minnesota (just kidding) … Missouri has a choice spot on the floor – FRONT ROW BABY! That’s right … you’ll see the Missourians right down in front to the left of the speakers.
But it should also be noted that because of Hurricane Gustav things have been curtailed here at the Convention. Day One on Monday will basically be a "gavel in, gavel out" day officially because of ongoing concerns about the situation with Hurricane Gustav in the Gulf. Clearly, Republicans do not want to be seen as partying to excess while part of the country is hit with a natural disaster. There’s even talk of helping out the victims … should things get bad down South.
In the meantime, though … the show is underway.
– Steve Walsh
Friendly wagers involving political leaders from different cities and states are not uncommon during sporting events … and our Governor Matt Blunt has entered into a bet with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich over Saturday’s opening football game for the Missouri Tigers as they hopefully crush … er … take on the Illinois Fighting Illini under the Dome in St. Louis.
What’s at stake this year? If the Tigers lose – which we hope will not happen – our Governor will officially proclaim September 6th – the date of both teams’ first home game – "University of Illinois Fighting Illini Day" and should the Fighting Illini lose, Blagojevich is set to proclaim the same day "University of Missouri Fighting Tigers Day" on his home turf. In addition, the losing Governor has also agreed to pose for a photo with the proclamation.
On a personal note … I am disappointed that the game starts in the evening. I’m going to miss the opener as I have to head up to Minneapolis-Saint Paul for the Republican National Convention. When I saw the schedule a few months back I was hoping for a late morning or early afternoon game … which would allow me to scoot up to the Twin Cities after the game … but a night game tosses that plan out the window.
Anyway, I have some fun ideas in mind for the Missourinet blog once I get to Minnesota. And, with the selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate … we could see a more energized convention … and those are always more fun to cover.
– Steve Walsh
During the course of late Friday morning and early afternoon media outlets throughout the state got the much anticipated reaction to presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate.
Republicans from Governor Matt Blunt … to Senator Kit Bond … to Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder … to Missouri GOP Chairman Doug Russell were filled with praise.
As was the statement from State Treasurer Sarah Steelman … but it went a little beyond the standard praise. After stating she is "thrilled with John McCain’s bold selection of Sarah Palin," our Sarah wrote, "As Governor she has fought for the people of her state and for a government that truly serves them. In Alaska, she fought against cronyism and corruption and restored faith in what principled leadership can accomplish. In battling wasteful and wreckless spending by Congress, Governor Palin called for a ban on earmarks, even when they would benefit her state. That’s the kind of leadership America needs."
Well … doesn’t that sound like some of the talk we heard during her tough gubernatorial fight with eventual winner Kenny Hulshof?
– Steve Walsh
Republicans are making it clear they intend to make Barack Obama’s running mate a part of the GOP effort to stress Obama’s lack of experience in foreign policy areas. In a Thursday morning conference call with reporters, former U.S. Senator Jim Talent hammered home his belief that Obama isn’t ready to lead the country … and Talent says the selection of Biden as the veep nominee proves it.
Says Talent: "The choice of Joe Biden, to me, is almost a confession by the Obama campaign that this is a big problem because there really was no reason to pick Joe Biden except his foreign policy credentials. So, it’s saying … look we know we need help on this. It’s an affirmation by them in a way."
He adds: "If you’re an independent and you’re looking at this you’re going … ya … that’s a negative for Senator Obama and a positive for John McCain."
How much will Republicans play up this issue during the campaign? "You’re going to hear Republicans continuing to talk about it," says Talent, "Because it’s a legitimate issue and a big one."
Republicans are quick to point out the first person to question Obama’s readiness for the post was none other than Biden … when Biden and Obama were fighting it out for the Democratic Party nod.
– Steve Walsh
The Missouri delegation to the Democratic National Convention has been assigned a spacious and comfortable hotel in the suburbs of Denver. Or, the Missouri delegation has been banished to the outskirts of the city, leaving it detached and wondering about its place in the party.
Such are the speculations that attend every national political party convention. Political parties tend to deliver messages with accommodations. The Texas delegation doesn’t fare all that well at the Democratic National Convention. The Massachusetts delegation doesn’t get high-profile treatment at the Republican National Convention.
This is the fourth Democratic National Convention I have covered. The first, in 1996, had great accommodations in Chicago. The second, LA in 2000, moved the delegation out to Pasadena, a bit far from the convention hall, but quality digs nonetheless. Boston, in 2004, had the delegation in a high quality hotel on the harbor, next to the convention center (I didn’t stay there, being shipped out to Somerville, MA, but that’s another story). Four years ago, the Missouri delegation sat on the floor of the convention hall, just to the left of the stage, a prime location. This year, the delegation is right of the stage on the second level, far from the sweet location it once occupied.
So, what happened this year?
Speculation is that the Missouri delegation to the DNC has lost some clout, because of the loss of Richard Gephardt. I had always been told that Missouri received such good treatment, because Gephardt was the top Democrat in the United States House and commanded great respect. Missouri also had been solidly in Democrat hands until after the 2000 election. Gephardt has left Congress. Republicans have taken over the Missouri General Assembly and the governor’s office. George W. Bush won the state twice. The delegation ends up in Centennial, CO. It’s a nice place, but you definitely cannot see the convention center from here.
Missouri Republicans have noticed. In a news release, the State Republican Party has seized upon the fact that the Missouri Democratic delegation has been assigned the remote outpost. Republicans rightly point out that after promising to campaign vigorously in Missouri in 2004, John Kerry visited Jefferson City for a huge rally, then packed up and left the state for good. It’s a memory that has left a lingering, bitter taste in the mouths of Missouri Democrats who had to fend for themselves in the crucial final weeks of the campaign.
Missouri Republicans compare the accommodations Missouri has received here to the pull out of Kerry in 2004. They claim Barack Obama is doing the same thing as Kerry, stating that Missouri is important, but not living up to that claim.
"Based on the Missouri Democrat Delegation being seated in the nose-bleed section at the Democrat National Convention it does not appear as if anything has changed – Missouri is not a priority for Democrats," said Tina Hervey, communications director Missouri Republican Party.
Hervey, in her news release, also takes a shot at Senator McCaskill.
"Other indicia of the lack of commitment to Missouri included network televisions’ coverage of Claire McCaskill’s remarks. Many networks didn’t cover her entire address but rather had commentators speaking and asking who she was. If the Democrats cared about Missouri, they would have briefed the media on the importance of her remarks."
We can debate the use of the word "indicia" later (some already have), but Republicans don’t need to worry about Claire. The networks know who she is. She has been serving as one of the top Obama surrogates at the convention, speaking so much this week she has grown hoarse. As for the criticism of the accomodations, there might be a point in there somewhere. A delegation’s importance is often displayed by where they stay and where they are seated in the convention. Missouri this year doesn’t rank high in either category.
I suspect that will change should Barack Obama win the presidency. McCaskill is close to the Obama campaign. Her star is on the rise. An Obama Administration only makes that star rise a bit higher.
As for whether Obama cares about Missouri, a better indication might be the offices the campaign has opened in Missouri. The Obama campaign is opening its 37th Missouri office in Lee’s Summit. It has 24 offices in rural Missouri. That’s an unprecedented commitment by a Democratic presidential candidate to Missouri, especially to outstate Missouri, and more important than where the Missouri delegation is staying this week.
– Brent Martin
Missourinet’s Brent Martin is covering the Democratic National Convention in Denver … covering the Missouri delegation. He files this entry for the Missourinet blog.
One of the big stories at the Democratic National Convention, perhaps THE big story, is whether Hillary Clinton delegates will get solidly behind Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy. In Missouri, it seems apparent that Clinton delegates are taking a pragmatic approach. They want to win in November, badly. They understand that a divided party likely spells doom. They are switching their support to Obama.
It seems to me that few Democrats who supported Clinton will actually vote for Republican John McCain. The real question, and the one I have been pursuing all week, is will they enthusiastically endorse Obama? Campaigns have been won and lost the last few election cycles, especially in Missouri, by very small margins. Republicans have given credit to a superior ground game for their victories in Missouri, which has stayed in Republican hands as other states have turned over and become the possession of Democrats. Republicans simply have turned out their base better than Democrats. A political party’s base turns out on emotion; on that intangible we tend to call enthusiasm. The presidential campaign in Missouri likely will turn on enthusiasm. McCain must somehow generate the fervent support that kept Missouri in the Republican column for President Bush. It remains to be seen if he can do that. At present, Missouri Republicans seem a bit back on their heels, in a defensive posture. Missouri Democrats sense victory and a bright, young candidate like Barack Obama presents a nominee that can generate enthusiasm among some voters who haven’t been a factor before. Still, Obama needs Clinton supporters not just to vote for him in November, but to work for him between now and then.
Some assume the speech given by Hillary Clinton will do the trick. It might. It might not. Clinton threw her support solidly behind Obama’s campaign last night. Clinton supporters in Missouri say they plan to follow her lead in switching their support to Obama, understanding that a united front is need to win this fall. By all accounts, Clinton gave a masterful speech. It could become a speech with a two-edged sword. It gave Obama the endorsement his campaign wanted. It was delivered so well, though, and received with such enthusiasm, it might have left many Clinton supporters with that nagging feeling of what might have been.
– Brent Martin