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Volunteering at the Republican National Convention – Day 2

September 8, 2008

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008.  My wife, Gerine, has to meet her team by 3:30pm today and I have to be in place by the elevators on the Club level of the Excel Energy Center by 4:00pm.  We go to the volunteer headquarters and get today’s credentials and a box lunch/dinner.  At the end of each day the credentials are deactivated and new ones are required for entrance to the RNC.  A  security precaution.

I get to my post by 4:00pm and Wendy the security guard is there from Monday.  There is a new Excel Guest Services personnel tonight – Jim.  Jim has been working hockey games since the Minnesota Wild came to St. Paul so Jim becomes the expert for directions tonight.  I only send one person to the wrong spot tonight.  I send someone to section C41.  The sections only go up to C40.  Oops.  It happened when Jim was on break.

At 6:00pm, Jazz musician Al Williams and his band start playing.  They sound great!  They were so good that the RNC asked him back the next two nights.

At 6:20pm the convention is called to order.  There aren’t many people here tonight.  By the end of the night the Excel Energy Center is only half full.

The main speakers tonight are Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (TN) and U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT).  I get to listen to most of Fred Thompson’s speech.  At the beginning of his speech, he talked a little about Governor Sarah Palin.  My favorite quote is:

“And I can say without fear of contradiction that she is the only nominee in the history of either party who knows how to properly field dress a moose … with the possible exception of Teddy Roosevelt.”

When Fred Thompson describes some of the details of Presidential Nominee John McCain’s time in captivity, the auditorium is silent.  Dead silent. There are no signs waving.  No shouts from the crowd.  Everyone is speechless.  Then Fred Thompson begins to build his speech and gets the delegates and guests wound up.  You would think that he was an actor. Then another quote:

“Now our opponents tell you not to worry about their tax increases.

They tell you they are not going to tax your family.

No, they’re just going to tax “businesses”! So unless you buy something from a “business”, like groceries or clothes or gasoline … or unless you get a paycheck from a big or a small “business”, don’t worry … it’s not going to affect you. “

That’s about all I was able to hear tonight.  I was pretty busy talking to people and giving directions.  I talked with a Chinese media person.  He had a fascination with our democratic process.  He was eager to learn more, like a child first learning to walk. It reminded me of what a privilege we have in this country to vote for our leaders and how few of us exercise that privilege.

Other speakers tonight included President George W. Bush (via satellite), First Lady Laura Bush, U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner (OH), U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman (MN), and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN).

It’s now the end of the night and our shifts are finished.  My feet ache from standing in one place for close to 7 hours.  Gerine and I meet to walk back to the volunteer shuttle pick-up spot.  On our way out of the Excel Energy Center, we see Actor Robert Davi being interviewed in the hall.  The reporter asks, “What do you hope to get out of the convention?”  The question strikes me funny.   It’s the kind of question you want to ask at the beginning of the night, not the end.  Got to love those reporters.

As we are walking, Gerine asks, “What celebrities have you seen today?”

“Just Robert Davi.”

Gerine lists who she has seen today:

  • Karl Rowe
  • Former Gov. Tom Ridge (PA)
  • David Harris (NBC News)
  • Alan Colmes (Fox’s Hannity and Colmes)

Then she lists those whom she talked with and those with whom she shook hands:

  • Governor Tim Pawlenty and his wife Mary
  • George Stephanopoulos
  • Actor Jon Voight

Stats: Todd -1.  Gerine – 8.

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