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RNC Backstage Pass: Random Impressions

Sep 3, 2008

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This convention comes across as both more business-like and less emotionally engaged than the Democratic convention.

Why might that be?

Because it's more of a conventional campaign run by political professionals, and less of a "cause"? Because there are fewer first-timers? ... And fewer women? ... Is it because the people are older?

... Are things different here because there is less of an undercurrent of the kind of intense sibling rivalry that haunted the first few days of the Democratic convention last week?

Also, there seem to be fewer journalists here, although I have seen more of my friends in St. Paul than in Denver (probably because of the time difference — I'm not so dog tired — since we tape in the morning). I know that a couple of the black media outlets that covered the Dems were not scheduled to be here, or are leaving early — BET and Radio One, for example.

On the other hand, all of the big name Republicans who did the Democratic reaction are here, along with some of the Democrat counterparts, like Donna Brazile.

To answer some questions from listeners:

Why aren't the evangelical and social conservative Christians more upset about Sarah Palin's pregnant teenaged daughter?

Our unscientific reporting showed a split both inside the hall and out:

Texas delegate Fred Farias says it proves she's human, families go through this, and that it makes Palin more authentic.

"It's a family matter, and we like that fact that she's walking the walk, she's keeping the baby," said Farias.

Fellow Texan Cynthia Jenkins (one of the few African-American delegates here) agreed.

"Families go through this. I think people can relate to her and what she's going through," she told me.

But not so fast, says voter David Clough. He's not a delegate, he's just a guy we met on our way home who says he is a Christian (make that conservative evangelical).

"It is an issue," he says. "If she [Palin] can't run a moral household, she can't run the country, if it comes to that. I don't understand why John McCain is saluting that. It just shows how corrupt we've become. It's an issue to me because I'm a Christian."

Clough says he is not sure he will vote for anybody now, he's so disappointed.

Switching gears, we've been hearing that the Democrats are still battling rumors that Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim. And this isn't just idle internet chatter.

Texan Margaret Ann Lopez, a guest of her delegate husband's this time (last time, she was a delegate and he was her guest), says she is absolutely convinced Obama is a Muslim.

"He's a liar," she says. "He lies about so many things. He lies that he is qualified."

How does Lopez feel about Palin and the baby?

Palin, she says, "is tremendously qualified ... she has done more service in those years than he [Obama] has in the years he has been there [serving in the U.S. Senate]."

Obama, she is convinced, is a "dangerous person."

I asked Lopez why the Palin matter is any different from the rumors in 2000, claiming that McCain has an illegitimate black daughter?

"This is different," she says. "There was no evidence of that."

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