• A blog with voices and opinions from Iowans at the 2008 Republican National Convention in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area put together by the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

    Would you like to take part in this blog? Submit and email.

    The Gazette also had a similar blog for the Democratic National Convention.
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Flood help request is ‘terribly relevant’ at convention

By James Q. Lynch – Flooding has been a recurring topic of conversation this week as delegates, candidates and officeholders have talked of the failure of the Democratic-controlled Congress to approve recovery assistance.

Wednesday, delegates saw the impact when a video montage of flood scenes was shown at the conclusion of the Iowa delegation’s daily breakfast meeting.

“It’s terribly relevant,” explained alternate delegate Kathryn Farrand of Cedar Rapids. She hoped it would encourage Iowans to volunteer Wednesday afternoon to assemble care packages for Hurricane Gustav victims.

Catherine Betts, a registered nurse from North Liberty, watched the video and signed up for the service project.

“I got the message,” said Betts, an alternate delegate, adding that she was moved by the emotional impact on flood victims depicted in the video.

Farrand also wanted to remind the delegation that congressional inaction has left a lot of uncertainty in flood-affected communities.

“I hope we can light a fire under Congress,” she said.

And finally, she’s has been using the video to raise money for flood victims and to support the work of Serve the City, which was instrumental in the flood response in Cedar Rapids.

Farrand said she has sent the video to many out-of-state churches as a fundraising tool. Dick Beals of Robins produced it with backing from her church, Christ Community in Marion.

She wasn’t discouraged by the fact that nearly two-thirds of the Iowa delegation had already left the meeting before the video was shown. The meeting had already lasted nearly two hours as several McCain surrogates spoke.

“I’m not offended,” Farrand said. “Who wants to follow the ambassador to the United Nations with my humble little church video?”


Raw politics – update

By James Q. Lynch – The mystery of the skinny-dipper at the hotel where the Iowa delegation has been staying has been solved.

Turns out the naked man in the pool was just making himself at home. Apparently, the dress code is a little more relaxed at home in Sweden.

A Swedish news reporter said he was just enjoying the pool and hot tub, and was unaware anyone objected to his casual attire.

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Visualize this

By James Q. Lynch – No one could blame Iowa conventioneers if they had trouble following U.S. Rep. Steve King as he described vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin Thursday morning.

First, he talked about how she had “nailed a 10” and added, “She’s our Shawn Johnson,” referring to the gold medal Olympian from West Des Moines.

Later, he described Palin’s politics as “our Margaret Thatcher,” the late British prime minister, was known as the Iron Maiden.

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Where’s that?

By James Q. Lynch Cedar Rapids police officers are helping maintain order at the Republican National Convention. They’re working in St. Paul to repay the support they received from police them during June flooding.

So far, officers said Wednesday night, they haven’t been involved in the violent demonstrations that have led to hundreds of arrests.

Like the delegates, they’re from out of town and don’t know their way around. When they get asked for directions, one officer said, “We tell them if they find what they’re looking for to come back and tell us where it is.”

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The party of Lincoln, Reagan and Wellstone

By James Q. Lynch – First District Republican candidate David Hartsuch raised a few eyebrows Thursday morning when he told Iowa’s GOP convention delegation that his role model is Paul Wellstone.

Yes, the liberal, college professor who claimed to represent “the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.” Wellstone defeated an incumbent Republican to serve one term in the U.S. Senate. Just days before standing for re-election, he died in a plane crash while campaigning.

Wellstone, according to Hartsuch, an emergency room doctor who lived in Minneapolis for 16 years, “did reflect a high level of service and I think people respect that whether you are from the left or the right or the center.”

“People want to know that the people they are electing to office are going to be representing everybody, not just special interests,” said Hartsuch, who is challenging freshman Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat. Braley, he said, “represents a very narrow special interest group in trial lawyers and unions.”

Wellstone is rarely mentioned with respect in Republican circles and Hartsuch said later he hoped that his audience understood he appreciated Wellstone’s approach to public service, but was not endorsing his policies.
“I am a right winger, there’s no doubt about it,” said Hartsuch, who is a champion of social conservative philosophy in the Iowa Senate.

“I believe Paul Wellstone reflected the broader interest of the public,” he said. “While I disagree with him on his policy – nonetheless, I could never doubt his integrity.”

Wellstone’s commitment to individuals is what “makes a good legislator a great one,” Hartsuch said. “That’s exactly what I try to do ¿ (because) people come to government with needs. It’s my duty to meet the needs of the people.
“I think his memory should live on as being a great statesman,” Hartsuch said.

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Wednesday at the convention

By Sarah Henderson – Late Tuesday night several delegates and I had the opportunity to attend the AgNite reception, despite the chilly temperatures, it was a great event and we enjoyed the live entertainment of Styx. We were up pretty late, but it was worth no sleep to get up early for the Iowa delegation breakfast at 8:00 AM today.

If anyone was thinking they were tired at the meeting, the “Power Hour” program was sure to pump everyone up. We were blessed with the opening remarks from John McCain‘s mother. For me, the highlight was being in the presence of two Medal of Honor recipients and the wisdom shared by John Bolton.

At mid-week and the first big TV night, I started to take note of some interesting attire. A few state delegations wear complete matching outfits such as Texas all with white cowboy hats. Several other delegations have coordinating blazers and golf shirts. But the highlight was a woman in elephant-head house slippers. She told me her feet hurt so bad and they were matching with the convention so she just never took them off from the afternoon at the hotel. Given the state of my own feet I thought it was a great idea.

Today I put on my tennis shoes to participate in our service project preparing snack bags for the Gulf Coast. The Iowa delegation joined other states this afternoon to stuff bags and package snacks to be shipped south. It was a great experience to see how much could be assembled with everyone working together. It has special meaning being from Cedar Rapids to pay it forward to other people dealing with the immediate evacuation from a natural disaster.

This afternoon we were able to attend a reception for Mitt Romney and his family prior to the start of the evening program. I hope to see more of Mitt Romney in the future in some capacity in American politics. I feel he brought forward a great campaign and offered a lot to the Republican party.

More on this evenings program in my next entry.

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What a small world

By Tim Demuth – Truly one of the highlights of circling around the Republican convention is the all the sort of people that you could never expected to run into.

Today, the man in charge of the security for out hotel, Mr. John Bay, turned out to be a native of Decorah, who knows Bob Bruce and James Q. Lynch, and the son, Jason Bay, that I had the pleasure of working with during the caucuses.

What a small world this turns out to be.

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