Penn student reports from the RNC

September 5, 2008 12:43:58 PM PDT
Editor's note: The following is a contribution from a University of Pennsylvania student, attending the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Today has been a long day. I woke up well before 7am in order to make it to the Pennsylvania Delegation Breakfast across town. One of the benefits in having the conventions back to back (for those that were fortunate enough to attend both) is seeing the subtle differences one would miss had there been a larger gap in between the two conventions. Granted we only witnessed the Republican Pennsylvania Delegation on their last day, but I feel as though I received a pretty good sense of what it was all about. That being said, the Democratic delegation breakfasts were a pep rally for the Democratic Party while this Republican delegation breakfast was much more of a rousing of the American spirit. From the centerpieces (a vase filled with American flags and silver and red ornament balls) to the trumpet player starting the session off with a playing of the national anthem to the entire delegation reciting the pledge of allegiance in unison, it was a very moving way to start the morning. Not to mention it was also quite exciting as WPVI's own Matt O'Donnell interviewed me. Next weeks morning newscast will not be the same!

From the Pennsylvania Delegation we traveled to the New Jersey Delegation breakfast. By the time we were there, the breakfast was wrapping up. Fortunately, one of our professors is a close friend of former New Jersey Governor Tom Caine and we had a lengthy discussion with the former governor. What this conversation made me appreciate is how unique all conventions truly are. It is both naïve and narcissistic of those who believe the 2008 conventions are in a special class. They do not comprehend that all conventions are unique in their circumstances. From Governor Caine's discussion, I realized that modern conventions are arguably less exciting as the candidates are no longer chosen at the convention. The excitement of a 1940, 1960 or 1976 is no longer possible. Today's convention excitement is derived from the media spectacle they have become as well as the excitement surrounding the pre-selected candidates.

After our second breakfast (getting back to normal eating habits next week is going to be difficult!) we made our way to our class meeting where we sat down with former California Governor Pete Wilson. Governor Wilson prefaced our conversation with the fact that he was a partisan. Listening to him the rest of our session, there was no need to preface the conversation with that?we would have discerned this very quickly! However, Governor Wilson still had many valuable points to make. Our conversation quickly turned into how the Republicans could once again win California's electoral votes. Governor Wilson must have had a crystal ball because the focus of his strategy for reclaiming California was to focus on education. Senator McCain seems to have heeded his warning?California prepare for the Mac Attack!

After a prolonged linner (lunch/dinner) I ventured into the hall. Our professors were warning us of the long security lines, yet when I entered there was no line! I made it inside in record time and thought I had even secured a better seat until I was gently told that it was the section for the Georgia alternate delegation! I still had a remarkably good seat (one I did not have the credentials for!) and watched as the evening's festivities proceeded.

The nice thing about the RNC is that they want the audience to know exactly what the theme for the night is. Tonight, in the place where "Prosperity" had been displayed last night and "Service" the night before was the word "Peace." Peace was the overarching theme of the evening from Senator Frist's story of medical care in the third world to the videos shown throughout the evening (which I must admit were lacking in quality when compared with the Spielberg directed videos at the DNC.)

The main event for the night was, of course, Senator McCain's acceptance. After a long-standing ovation, Senator McCain began. Amidst his modest stage and a crowd of attentive Republicans, Senator McCain learned the value of speaking in front of a crowd as large as the one at Invesco last Thursday?dissenting voices are not disruptive because no one can hear them. On three separate occasions protesters started to yell out critical words to the Senator. The crowd quickly drowned them out with their chanting of "U-S-A," but the damage was done. Senator McCain was thrown off of his game. While he tried to play it off lightly, it cannot be a momentum builder to hear negative words shouted at you during the biggest speech of your political career. As we all knew he would do, Senator McCain persevered through the speech and finished with a wild audience and a standing ovation.

Then, my favorite part of the evening came?the balloon and confetti drop. All week I was staring at the blown up balloons in anticipation of being part of a Republican tradition. It did not disappoint, and I have the pictures to prove it!

It has been both a long and rewarding two weeks. I certainly hope that these were not my last conventions, but they certainly made for an exciting first. I have learned an incredible amount and have a much greater appreciation for the stamina it takes to campaign non-stop for months, even years. I am sad to pack my credentials, but excited to have a solid night sleep! Thanks to everyone who read my blog (I hope you have found it somewhat entertaining!) and thanks to WPVI for allowing me the opportunity to share my experiences with the Philadelphia community.

Read Jen's blog from Wednesday

Read Jen's blog from Tuesday

Read Jen's blog from Monday


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