Convention Eve — Gustav

On the drive up to Minneapolis today, I listened as the McCain camp
and the RNC stuggled over what to do about the National Convention in
the light of Hurricane Gustav. This afternoon, the decision was made to
cut short the first day of the convention.

Monday, the convention will convene to take up essential
business. The Gulf state Governors, Barbour, Perry, Crist and Jindal
will all be keeping watch on the homefront. President Bush will be
managing the disaster response. So Monday, there will be no political
speeches. On Monday, the convention will approve the rules, credentials
and platform and then adjourn.

Tuesday? Who knows. 

Convention Keynote? Gustav

When I was at the Platform Committee meeting last week I got to meet
a Republican Icon. Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi. With
Hurricane Gustav coming, there may be changes to the convention agenda.
it has even been speculated that the first day may be canceled.

if the convention goes on as scheduled, there will be changes. As
Gustav approaches the Gulf Coast, Republican Governors Haley Barbour of
Mississippi, Rick Perry of Texas, Charlie Crist of Florida and Bobby
Jindal of Louisiana are all staying home. President Bush may also stay home to manage federal response from Washington.

This was to be Jindal’s Obama moment.
Just as Barack Obama rocketed onto the national scene with his speech
at the 2004 Democrat Convention, Jinfdal is a rising star in the party was
to give the Tuesday night keynote address in St. Paul. Jindal was on
many people’s short list for the VP spot but he declined citing his
responsibility to the people of Louisiana.

I was looking forward
to hearing him speak but the people of Louisiana need him now and he
knows his duty. Make no mistake if Gustav comes ashore in Louisiana, Governor Jindal will be spotlighted on the national stage.

As an Iowan living in Cedar Rapids (ground zero of the recent flooding) my prayers are with all of those in the Gulf states.

McCain-Palin — The Ticket

After McCain’s announcement that he had chosen Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate, my sister called. My sister is a Democrat and a Hillary supporter. She left me a voice message suggesting that this had been a bad choice.

The funny thing is that while she may be questioning McCain’s choice, Republicans are not. As a Republican, I think it is an inspired choice. It is no secret
that Republican Conservatives have had concerns about John McCain. As a
conservative myself, I have found myself having to urge my friends to
vote for him. McCain has found himself at odds with conservatives over
campaign finance reform, immigration, judges and taxes. On pro-life
issues, while McCain has an excellent anti-abortion voting record — he
does not support a Human Life Amendment. He has also petitioned the
president to expand embryonic stem cell research.

The GOP Platform, which really is a McCain platform,  takes a conservative stance on ALL of these issues. The draft was so conservatives that some on the committee felt that we were being thrown a bone in order to prepare us for a Joe Lieberman VP pick.

With the Sarah Palin pick, every
Republican I have spoken to says they are now fully on board with the
McCain campaign.  I will not post the links here but nearly all of Iowa’s conservative blogs have praised the pick. Likewise, most of the major newspapers in Iowa have interviewed Republicans and all across the spectrum they are pleased with Governor Palin.  People who told me in the past that they were staying home in November now sound like cheerleaders for the ticket.

I am looking forward to hearing her speak at the convention.

The GOP National Platform

Wednesday evening the Committee on Resolutions of the 2008 Republican National Convention completed platform deliberations. As a member of that committee, I have to say that I was pleased with the process and the result.

On Monday evening, we were given copies of the draft platform drawn up by the committee staff. It was a very conservative document. On Tuesday morning, we broke up into subcommittees to refine the draft and then Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday, we discussed each section in the full committee. The 2008 platform will be about half the size of the 2000 and 2004 platforms.

As for the process, I thought that our chairmen, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California and Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina did an excellent job of running the meeting. Being a rules guy, I found their informal style a bit disquieting but as the meetings dragged on they more than won me over.

I had heard in past platform committees that members sometimes went away felling that they had not been treated fairly, that their voices had not been heard. I can confidently say that no one felt that way here. Rep McCarthy and Sen Burr were patient, fair and used a sense of humor in dealing with the committee. They were very accommodating and made sure that everyone had the chance to be heard. They ran the committee in an informal manner that fostered consensus-building.

The most interesting behind the scenes happening was the McCain camp. McCain had staffers in all the sub-committee rooms and in main committee room. Their job was to preempt any amendments that might prove embarrassing to the candidate. If an amendment were proposed that differed from McCain’s position, the person making the amendment would be asked to come to a back room (the woodshed) where McCain staffers would attempt to persuade them to withdraw or modify their proposal. In the room McCain supporters were told to follow the lead of Congresswoman Heather Wilson of New Mexico. She was the voice of the McCain campaign in the room. A very eloquent voice.

When issues came up that they disagreed with, the McCain camp was prepared and organized. They had their talking points and their people were lined up to state their case. For example, on the issue of drilling in ANWR, the McCain camp was adamant that the platform be silent on the issue. Even though everyone who spoke agreed that we should drill in ANWR, the committee overwhelmingly rejected adding ANWR to the platform. Props to the campaign for having all their ducks in a row.

In the end, the platform is a solid, Republican platform. Our platform is pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family and pro-business. It takes a strong stand on immigration, energy and taxes. It is pro-America and supports our troops. Is it perfect? No. But as a member of the platform committee, I am proud to have participated in its creation.

The next step is for the full convention to ratify the platform on Monday.

Sara Palin!

Sara Palin

It’s official! John McCain has chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin is an excellent choice. She is young (44) and  extremely popular in her home state. She is a reformer and a fiscal conservative.

There had been some discussion that recent corruption in the Alaska Republican Party hurt her chances to be VP. In some ways the opposite may be true. Palin helped to bring many of these issues to light. She unseated an incumbent Republican governor in the 2006 primary and ran as an outsider to win the seat.

Palin is an NRA member, has a son in the Army preparing to go to Iraq. She is strongly pro-life and the mother of a child with Downs Syndrome. She even worked briefly as a commercial fisherman

Her husband Todd has worn many hats. He has worked in Alaska’s oil fields, his family has a commercial fishing operation and he is a long distance snowmobile racing champion.

The McCain-Palin ticket is precisely the unity ticket that we need to win the Whitehouse in November.

Way to go Stewart!

I just had a chance to review the Des Moines Register’s  Live Chat with RPI Chairman Stewart Iverson. I did not catch the event live so I am not sure what it looked like in real-time.

Iverson did a great job of answering the questions. He presented core Republican principles in his answers, including economic growth, less intrusive government, victory in Iraq, energy and life.

He had good answers to every question. Thanks Stewart.

National Platform Committee

We had the first meeting of the national platform committee yesterday in preparation for next week’s convention.  I have been impressed with our chairman Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California and our co-chairman Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina.

I have had a chance to talk to delegates from all over the US and among the highlights are the two sitting right next to me. One is a law professor who in his spare time defends cities and states who are trying to enforce immigration policies. The other is another lawyer who works with a variety of well-known Christian organizations. Yesterday was only the preliminary meetings but we have already started up some good discussions. It will be interesting because we only have two working days to complete the platform. Previous conventions have taken as many as five.

Overall the draft platform looks pretty good, but as they say, "the devil is in the details." One thing is certain, this years platform will be significantly shorter than 2004. The 2004 platform was 92 pages.

The Platform Committee is meeting in Minneapolis not in St Paul where the convention will be next week. So even though I didn’t get to sleep until 2am I got up to ride my fixed gear bicycle at 5am. It felt good to race around the deserted downtown. I needed the exercise because today is going to be a long day.

The Convention, The Slate and the Delegation Part II

I received this today. I do not know Bill Ramsey so it’s not  personal. I have a problem with the process. In this process, if I make a nomination, no one will get a chance to vote on it unless a majority vote against Ramsey. Once again, I am voting no.

No more comments, here is the e-mail:

Dear National Convention Delegate,

Thank you for the many responses we received from the letter we sent last week. In total we received 31 responses, 27 of them in favor of the proposed changes to the delegation.

One change has occurred since you voted on filling the vacancies on the delegation. Due to various reasons Gopal Krishna will now be unable to attend the convention next week. It is proposed to have alternate John Bloom fill the vacancy on the delegation because he was the alternate for that open delegate position and add Bill Ramsey to fill Mr. Bloom’s now vacant at-large alternate position.

The final proposed change is:

John Bloom to fill the vacancy created by Morris Hurd, Bill Ramsey to fill the vacancy created by John Bloom as an alternate delegate.

Again due to the tight time frame of the convention please respond as quickly as possible indicating your vote. As stated in the first letter, all delegates are free to nominate any other person to fill the vacancy.

If you nominate any person to fill the vacancy, please make sure that that person will attend the 2008 Republican National Convention and have a place to stay if that person is elected to fill the vacancy.

If a majority of the delegates vote in favor of the addition of Bill Ramsey as an alternate delegate, it will be considered that the delegation agreed to fill the vacancy with Bill Ramsey. If the majority of the delegates do no concur with Bill Ramsey, we will conduct an election among all the nominees on August 29, 2008. Please reply to the above email address (  ) by stating that you either concur to fill the vacancy or with your nomination before 1:00 P.M. on August 27, 2008. We will inform the delegation of the results August 28, 2008.

Thank you,

Steve Scheffler
Delegation Chair

PS. FYI  Bill Ramsey is a successful realator from Waterloo.  Bill is a long time Black Hawk County Republican Activist and former Black Hawk County GOP Chairman.

The Convention, The Slate and The Delegation

One of the controversies from our state convention was over The Slate and in particular, how delegates were chosen for the National Convention. I have a history with The Slate.

At the 2000 GOP State Convention I chaired the Platform Committee, but some readers may also remember that I got into a procedural shouting match from the floor with then Chairman Kayne Robinson. The procedural point is not important but the topic was the National Delegation (for Philadelphia). 

At the 2004 GOP State Convention, I declined to have my name put on the slate (for New York), since my daughter had to report to the Washington DC to serve as a House Page. Instead I was slated to chair the Nominating Committee and I was the public face of The Slate.

In 2008, I had a part in developing The Slate within the 2nd Congressional District. And I have been elected as a district delegate to the National Convention.

I do not have a problem with The Slate. In my opinion the success of The Slate is simply the result of hard work and organization. The Iowa Christian Alliance has done a good job of getting their supporters out and elected to key positions like the Nominating Committee. If you have a problem with The Slate, my advice is … organize, organize, organize. Anyone who wants to can do the same thing — if they have the votes.

So, I am an apologist for The Slate. In the end, The Slate was hammered out with input from a variety of constituencies, not just ICA. A look at our delegation shows that in addition to ICA people, leaders of the McCain, Huckabee, and Ron Paul camps are well represented in the delegation.

But this week an issue has arrived related to our national delegation that I do not support. Since the convention, there have been some vacancies in our delegation. According to RNC Rule 17, in the last 10 days before the National Convention, the delegation can fill its own vacancies. Today, the leadership of the Iowa Delegation sent out an e-mail asking delegates to vote yes or no on replacing those who will not be attending the convention.

I know that the list of replacement delegates came about as the result negotiations between parties including the McCain campaign. And I want to be clear that I have no problems with any of the replacements. My problem is that sending out a list of names and asking for a majority vote by e-mail does not allow delegates to propose alternate nominees.

Unlike The Slate where any group with the votes can be effective, the mechanism chosen to select replacement delegates stifles input form delegates. As I said, my issue is not with who the replacements are, in fact I support them. I have an issue with how they are chosen.

I think the replacements will get a majority, but in protest, I  am voting no.