Sunday, June 08, 2008

Republican Convention Showcases Great Leaders

The North Carolina Republican Convention showcased both of the interesting stories about the party at this time. Due to the Rove-Bush-Hastert years there is uncertainty about what it means to be a Republican. Rove-Bush-Hastert fostered an attitude that we can support pork and socialist programs and still be conservatives. A great amount of time is being spent trying to get back some degree of party unity among those who rejected this premise and those who accepted it.

At the same time, our party still has some of the really great leaders of our nation who are dedicated to forging a great future based on freedom and opposition to failed liberal policies. The other party is advocating socialism as "change you can believe it"? Since when is that something new?

I believe this uncertainty of who we are as a party is the reason attendance to this year's convention was lighter than normal. However the enthusiasm and excitement among those who came was driven by the clear leadership qualities of the candidates who have been selected to represent our North Carolina party this year. They were there to spread the word and lead us back.

The Master of Ceremonies for the 2008 convention was the excellent Bill Miller (shown below). Bill is a great MC, funny, quick and totally in command. Bill definitely counts as one of those great leaders we have in abundance.

A highlight of the convention was the arrival of Senator Fred Smith (shown in center below), one of our recent gubernatorial candidates. Though he did not secure the support of the greatest number of voters during the primary, among party regulars (like the people who were at the convention) Fred was the overwhelming choice. He is greatly loved and people flocked to him as he walked through the convention hall.

The Saturday sessions of the convention made the excellence and character of our candidates unalterably clear as one after another, the great leaders who are running for the North Carolina Council of State positions were introduced to the crowd . . . and they explained their plans for the future.

These leaders include our incumbents, Steve Troxler - Agriculture Commissioner, Cherie Berry - Labor Commissioner, and Les Merrit - Auditor (who was represented in the afternoon by his wife as he had a prior commitment and had to leave). It also includes newly chosen candidates; Senator Robert Pittenger for Lt Governor, Bill Daughtridge for State Treasurer, Bob Crumley for Attorney General, Jack Sawyer for Secretary of State, and John Odom for Commissioner of Insurance. These are impressive people and their speeches indicated their serious respect for the offices and the importance to our future it represents.

The culmination of these great speeches was when our impressive Senator Richard Burr (shown above) introduced presentations by both our incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole, and our Gubernatorial candidate, Mayor Pat McCrory. These two are the headliners in our campaign for North Carolina's government of the future.

Senator Dole (shown above) as usual gave a professional and inspired presentation. The reason she won decisively in her last campaign was clear.

She is a hard act to follow, but Mayor Pat McCrory was the hit of the convention with his rousing and emotional appeal for a commitment to the future of our nation and the future of our party. He hit all the right notes with the issues he addressed and had people repeatedly standing up to cheer.

The most surprising aspect of his speech was the enthusiasm he displayed. He was on fire! I haven't seen a Republican with this much fire in quite a while.

Immediately after his speech (during which Pat asked Fred Smith to stand up and be recognized) Chairman Linda Davies invited Senator Fred Smith up to the podium to really be recognized. It appeared to be spontaneous and the idea of Mayor McCrory. Whoever had the idea, it was well received.

Fred talked about his total commitment to help Pat win in November, and even joked about his loss to Pat. Fred said that Pat had taught him one lesson in the primary. That lesson? There were a lot of people who lived in Mecklenberg County (and they all voted for Pat!). The crowd roared.

Along with the usual litany of votes on electors and various other issues related to this Presidential campaign year, the election of our two National Republican Committee Members (who serve along with our Party Chairman at the national level) probably generated the most excitement.

The grassroot favorites who won the two contested elections for National Committee (one defeated the party leadership nominated candidate and the other defeated the Ron Paul contingent's candidate) were
Dr. Ada Fisher (shown above on left) and Representative David Lewis (shown above on right).

For me, one of the ironies of the convention was when the Chairman of the Young Republicans, Kim Cotten (shown above), rose to ask the convention to do something about lagging Republican contributions. Kim offered her checks to both the party and our candidate for Governor Pat McCrory. Incredibly her motion to ask convention attendees to match her was ruled out of order. How can it be out of order to ask party members to fund our party and its candidates? I don't think I was alone in appreciating what Kim tried to do. Thanks Kim. Good job.

My question to the party? When are you going to address the reality that Republicans are being out spent by Democrats by nearly 4 to 1? As the convention proved, we have a great slate of candidates. We do not currently have a great party backing them.


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