Editor's note: Chattanooga resident Christian Lanier, a delegate to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, will send blogs and photos to the Times Free Press, highlighting his experiences at the event.
Name: Christian Lanier
B.A., Political Science, Vanderbilt University
School of Law, J.D., University of Memphis
By Chris Lanier, Republican National Convention delegate
The announcement of Sarah Palin as VP occurred while I was serving in the Convention Rules Committee meeting. While watching the live feed, the speculation already had swirled that Gov. Sarah Palin from Alaska as the chosen candidate to finish the ticket on the Republican side. The pre-announcement buzz had already started, but the response to the official announcement was unanimous ... complete excitement and delight.
RNC members toured the XCEL Center briefly on Friday where I met Brett Baird of Fox News. The set up of the floor was in full swing, news organizations were dropping their logos and the convention space looked like an anthill swarmed with activity.
On Saturday, breakfast started with Fred Davis, the McCain-Palin media "guy," responsible for the Obama, Paris Hilton ad, giving us a show of past commercials and the promise of significance that the vehicle of visual media would have in this presidential election. The consensus being that Sarah Palin adds a great new aspect to the McCain campaign.
Sunday, delegates, alternates and guests arrived to the Tennessee Delegation's hotel, the Ramada Inn Mall of America. Tennessee shares the hotel with another interesting delegation — Alaska. Our staff had reached out to the Alaska GOP and Governor Palin’s office to share some speakers and events. Now, our hopes are high that Gov. Palin might make an appearance to her home delegation that would also include Tennessee ... stay tuned!
On a light note, the hospitality suite hosted for the delegation for the purposes of credential distribution and logistics, offered refreshments to those arriving. In our requests, we included "sweet tea." Sunday morning, Brooke Hagewood, TRP administrative assistant was teaching the staff how to make sweet tea to accommodate our group. Cultural diversity is good.
The mood on Sunday was that of excitement for those arriving, mixed with the somber reality that Hurricane Gustav loomed on the Gulf Coast. About 60 percent to 70 percent of the voting members of the Tennessee Delegation are at their first convention. Their excitement was natural, as was the true concern expressed by all as to the status of the hurricane.
In the afternoon, Alaska Chairman Randy Ruedrich and other Alaskan delegates gathered with us in the hallway watching the McCain press conference announcing the new agenda for Monday's opening day of the convention. John McCain was clear that the priority was that Republicans would stand with their fellow Americans in prayer and readiness, rather than conducting any business at the Convention except that which is legally required.
We forget that the purposes of these conventions are truly to be a business meeting to nominate the respective nominee for President and Vice President of the parties with adoption of rules and the platform that each party will observe and implement during the next four years.
This morning, the Tennessee Delegation was welcomed by Congressman Zach Wamp with remarks offered by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, chairman of the delegation. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn was conducting press interviews and appearing as a surrogate for the McCain campaign at various morning breakfast events.
The announcement has just popped into my blackberry that first lady Laura Bush will address the afternoon session. She will address the voting body of the convention and may be joined remotely by some of the governors of the Gulf Coast states.
— John McCain is embraced as a great candidate among a large group in Tennessee who had initially supported other candidates. Buttons, T-shirts, stickers and dinner chatter reflect a confidence in John McCain’s proven record as a fiscal and social conservative, while a proven reformer.
— Sarah Palin has ignited the excitement of every member of our delegation. Governor Palin has the obvious appeal to women, yet her gender should not serve as the cause of her selection as candidate for VP. Governor Palin has a record of making tough decisions: in cutting taxes, managing a oil pipeline deal with Canada, serving as the Commander in Chief of Alaska's National Guard, tackling unethical and illegal behavior among Democrats and Republicans. Her leadership as an elected official hasn't eclipsed her love of her 5 children and husband, Todd, whose resume is nothing to sniff at: commercial fisherman, a production operator in the oil fields on Alaska's North Slope, a proud member of the United Steelworkers Union, and a world champion snow machine racer.
A ticket of "complement" ... a complete match that will, indeed, serve "Country First.”
I leave in about two hours to travel to the XCEL Center in St. Paul with our delegation. RNC Chairman Mike Duncan will gavel the Convention into session at 2:30 p.m. CDT. As a member of the Convention Rules Committee, there will be a brief meeting to approved the rules report as part of the agenda. Then, the session moves forward.
I will keep you posted daily.