Wednesday, September 3, 2008

At Last! We Have Officially Begun!

The Convention has finally begun! With the official opening last night and the emotional ceremony, I was up late. After a thirteen hour day at the Xcel center, I decided I would blog about my experience today and get a couple of hours of sleep last night.

During the morning and afternoon, I was assigned to help the Afghan TV reporter interview locals and delegates. We started off with going to Mickey’s Diner – a must see. I also had lunch there. This is a famous and historical diner, akin to Edith Macefield’s home; a historical landmark that was threatened by development. It stands out because development has surrounded the 1939 art deco diner which was originally built in New Jersey. It has one bar where you may sit and order your meal from a menu with pre-war recipes or you can sit at one of the four booths which have a 30 minute limit. Pre-war is in reference to World War Two, not Iraq. Our next stop was to Heimie’s Haberdashery, a shop where you can get a shoe shine, shave/ hair cut, a tailored suit and a stylish hat. We spoke with the owner, who told us the tale of how his grandfather was a tailor in St. Paul, and to this day the owner fits men and boys whose fathers and grandfather’s first sports coat came from his shop. The style of this shop is reminiscent of 1920’s style, with antique furniture and employees with styled mustaches. I asked him, “How have accessories [on the suit] changed over the years?” His reply was twofold, stating that men no longer needed hats to keep the soot out of their hair or pocket watches to tell the time. What has evolved though, as he pulled a cell phone out of his three piece suit, was how and what the pockets of the suit are used for. His example was pockets on a vest that were previously used for pocket watches have now been slightly refitted to hold our modern day pocket watch, the cell phone. There has not been an overall change in where and how a suit is tailored, but its uses have morphed with our culture. After he offered to sell me a hat, which would have been nice, but thanks to technology we do not have soot filled air. I politely declined and headed to a press conference in the Foreign Press Center.

I attended two press conferences with the Afghan TV reporter, one with the McCain Campaign spokesman and one with a couple of Senators who have recently traveled abroad. The reporter asked a question in regards to our policies with Afghanistan. Upon the answer to the question, we rushed back to the trailers outside the Xcel center to transcribe what had been said so that it could be used for the evening news. During the time between these press conferences, I headed with mic in hand to interview delegates on the Convention floor. I found delegates ranging from Bar Harbor, Maine to Fallbrook, California. They have one thing in common: they were excited about McCain and were honored to be here.

After all of this, the Convention began. I headed for the floor. I accidentally positioned myself in front of the VIP seating: Cindy McCain, George H.W. Bush and the Medal of Honor Veterans who were two rows behind me. I also headed to the photographers area and got some great photos of the speakers, check them out below.

This is the link to Heimie’s Haberdashery:

I referenced the story of Edith Macefield, a local hero in Seattle; here is part of her story:

This is the link to the Wiki site on Mickey’s Diner; they do not have an official website:

Here is the Afghan TV reporter interviewing GOP participants about the Convention:

This is a shot just before the Convention officially began:

Cindy McCain sitting next to John's mother Roberta:

Cindy wanted a photo of us apparently:

Cindy McCain taking a seat again after the speech about her daughter Bridget, but where did Bridget go? Here she is hugging former First Lady Barbra Bush, former President George Bush (41):

First Lady Laura Bush:

Former Senator Fred Thompson speaking in front of a photo of John McCain:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Day One

I started my day with confusion as I tried to figure out how to navigate the secure, more secure and extremely secure areas of the Convention. I arrived at the Xcel Center, ready to start working at 8 am. I figured out the maze by about 8:45 am and found that the Voice of America (VOA) trailers are right next to John Stewart’s Daily Show Bus. After a quick orientation, I set out on my first mission: get every newspaper available at the Convention, and take them to the SkyBox. It might seem menial, but to do this simple mission, I was given Floor Credentials. So, after I had my photo taken in the SkyBox overlooking the Convention floor, I took a stroll across it. As I walked across the floor of the Convention, there were crews applying Windex to the floor under the podium – did you notice the way it shined as the First Lady spoke tonight? It takes a lot of Windex to get that shine.

After I strolled the Convention Floor, I followed a few reporters from VOA to the Crown Plaza Hotel to find Texan Delegates to interview, and found them we did! The delegates were proud, impassioned and knew their issues. I took many photos of the Texan Delegation, and some of them were used by VOA on their website. Below are some of the photos and the link to the story.

Even though I felt like I had done a day’s work already, it was only noon. Next, I headed off with another reporter to the Young Republicans luncheon at the Hard Rock CafĂ© in Minneapolis. There we got to speak with Senator Voinovich and Gov. Huckabee, and an interview with a Young Republican. At age 14, this young man had some very developed political ideas and ideals. After this, we were off again in search of Ron Paul. After getting turned around, we got to the wrong Borders Books and eventually never found him. This was not too big of a loss since he will be having a huge rally at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.

It was very difficult for me to find my way back into the Convention because the Riot Police were out in full force, and blocking the streets. After about ten blocks of walking around, trying to figure out how to get back to work, I found the entrance and made it into the Convention just in time for the First Lady’s speech. She and Cindy McCain had some very nice things to say and focused on our fellow Americans who are in need of our help. It was good to see the Party promote Disaster Relief, but I was disappointed that more was not done. There was too much focus on the glistening stage, just to have a few words and sign stating where to donate. The Party must do more. As he stood in front of destruction left over from Hurricane Katrina, Anderson Cooper asked Senator Obama if New Orleans has been forgotten. Obama responded, “It hasn’t been forgotten by me.” Due to his charisma as a leader, this draws attention from what the Republican Party has done. The G.O.P. must take a stronger stance on rebuilding, bringing the community back to New Orleans and supporting the Americans displaced by Hurricane Gustav.

The VOA story:

This Texan Delegate's name is Rex Teeter, he was great to talk with:

These Texan Delegates had a lot to say and big hats. There were pictures that showed their faces better, but I liked this one the most:

Senator Voinovich (make sure to notice his tie!):

Gov. Huckabee:

Our Impassioned Young Republican:

The Convention floor as they were taking care of business, I think they were counting delegates:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Historical Convention

With 20 hours until the convention and Senator McCain calling for us to take off our party “hats” and trade them for the American Hat, we see a Convention for the history books. Never before has a Presidential campaign been affected like this from outside forces. This storm, Hurricane Gustav, is having a greater effect than the 1968 DNC protests in Chicago. We are looking at a two and a half hour session tomorrow that will cover “business only”. It will begin about 3pm, and according to the Committee on Arrangements, the start time is the only thing they are sure of. When we wake up, and discover how much destruction has occurred and what the aftermath might become, we will then have a better idea of how the rest of this Convention will play out.

The Convention has two roles; one is a celebration of the Party and the other is the democratic function of the Party (not the Democratic Party). If votes are not counted and Sen. McCain is not the technically elected the candidate of the Party, his name will not appear on ballots in many states. This would be a fatal blow to the Republican Party. There is no question that the business of the Convention must take place.

Even though at first glance this looks like a bad situation, it may just be the opposite. We have some of the most influential people in the country congregating in the same place, and if the convention is cut short, delayed or altered, we have a unique opportunity. If the Republican Party harnesses the energy that has been building in the Twin Cities and re-directs it to disaster relief or fund raising, there is the opportunity to create a patriotic up swell behind the Party. The media is here, the people are here, and as John Stewart puts it, the “Rich White Oligarchs’” are here. So, the question becomes, “what else do we need?” We have the best opportunity in the Nation to recruit support and aide for our fellow Americans at the other end of the Mississippi.

Now, turning to the media, I will relate an interview with Karl Rove (on a cable network that begins with an “F”) that I watched today. He was speaking about Gov. Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential choice. He said that this race is much tighter than anyone could have anticipated and this choice will shake it up. He also complimented her on her speaking ability, reminding us that this was the first time she has spoken outside of her home state of Alaska, and to a group three times the size she has ever encountered and that the Dayton area has a similar population to her home state.

Again, this is a Convention for the History Books; keep checking in to see what’s next.

The Energy of St. Paul - Minneapolis

With less than 36 hours left before the Republican National Convention begins, St. Paul and Minneapolis have become ignited with energy. The Delegates, Media and Volunteers from all corners of the Nation have swarmed in to create and observe a celebration of politics and party. I will continue to follow the stories the media is and is not running after the Convention concludes, but for now, I am going to focus on what is happening here and now; these stories will continue to be discussed in the blog.

In the last few days, the city has changed drastically in the preparation for everyone’s arrival. I have been here for the last week and the liveliness has been ever increasing and, as of Friday, the media has been pouring in. I myself will be working with Voice of America, which broadcasts in 46 different languages across the globe to promote American Culture and domestic news. Some of what I am seeing I will not be able to report here on my blog because some of what I will have access to will be sensitive information. But have no fear; there will be a lot to report. I will be working on and running between the Convention Floor, the Voice of America Skybox and the media trailers outside the Xcel Center. I will report to you, on this blog, the news, the excitement and what people are saying on the floor.

This week I have had a chance to enjoy the political and cultural aspects of St. Paul and Minneapolis. I would like to share two of these experiences. One was a visit to the Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul. It is the original Federal building and served as a major Post Office hub for the upper Mid-West in an era when the Postal Service was equivalent to the Internet today. It was also the Court Room in a city that was a safe haven for criminals during Prohibition. Built in 1902, the architecture speaks to the rich and cultured society America was at the turn of the century. It incorporated detail in every corner and it is apparent that many details had a representative value. This is not how we build our buildings today and it has been very inspirational to see such a vivid example of our history. I have posted links at the bottom of the blog as examples. If you get the chance to see the Court Rooms and the Chief Justice’s room on the third and fourth floors, do so. You will be amazed.

I also attended an event, “Civic Fest.” It was held in the Convention Center in downtown Minneapolis, and had many important artifacts of American History. The event showcased Presidential cars, depictions of the Oval Office and even a fuselage of Air Force One. The most interesting exhibit to me was the exhibit of original flags that dated back to the beginning of the Country. One was the flag flown in 1789 at George Washington’s Inauguration. A little known fact about George Washington’s inauguration is that it was held in New York City, at Federal Hall on Wall Street. There were many flags with thirteen stars, and even some that had been added on to; turning a thirteen starred flag into a thirty-four starred flag. I took photos of many pieces of history that were on display and I will share some of them with you below. I have the privilege of experiencing all of this because of the Richard M. Nixon Fellowship, and the picture below will show you Buttons, credentials, and a few other interesting things including his Presidential airplane.

Stay tuned, as the Convention is about to begin!

Land Mark Center Photos:

George Washington’s Inaugural Flag:

The replica of President Nixon's Oval Office (notice the toy soldier):

Campaign Credentials and Political Pins:

An advertisement for the debate where we saw political debates change forever:

More Richard Nixon paraphernalia:

President Nixon used this Air Force One, pictures in the foreground show him in this room:

Thursday, March 27, 2008


The Whittier College Richard Nixon Fellowship program is taking full advantage of the 2008 presidential election year hubbub to bring exciting new opportunities to Whittier College students. The newly selected Nixon Fellows will attend the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this summer. Both will also be part of the Washington Center's National Political Convention Seminar this summer. Two other Nixon Fellows will be selected to attend the Presidential Inauguration in January 2009.