Dallas Does St. Paul: GOP Watch Party Notebook

Arrived a little early and in the theater they had Fox News (natch) on. Bill O’Reilly on, some 15 feet tall.

Sweet Jimminy.

Headed for the bar.

At the bar, Ruthy Palmer, who lives on Greenville, was ordering a Shiner on draft and I joined her. She wore two rhinestone elephant pins and was fussing with her wallet. The story she tells contains a none-too sub rosa meme that’s circulating among the Republicans everywhere.

“I wasn’t real excited about McCain. I wasn’t planning to come out. And I thought two days ago that little girl from Alaska was going to end up resigning from the ticket. Then I heard her (Wednesday). Woo-boy,” she said.

She also insisted on paying for her beer with plastic to save her cash since some cab drivers could be nasty if you didn’t have cash, “especially if they’re foreigners.”

On that John Rockeresque note, I headed back to suffer O’Reilly.


(L-R) Mirand Zapeda, Kim Locus, Lauryn Abrams, Kim Garza)

The Alaska governor was the star of conversations I eavesdropped on. She’s what had everyone most fired up after her grand slam speech and after the ugly Democrat attacks on the woman. (Mirand Zapeda put on her Palin glasses for a picture. Naughty librarian hawwt may be the next big thing.)

As I predicted last week Obama’s lackluster acceptance speech in Denver didn’t produce much bounce and what little good it did receded fast.

Polls have McCain and Obama tied even, and Palin is viewed more popularly than Obama or McCain, according to Rasmussen this morning.


Atticus Hornsby is working to try to get Bill Keffer his seat back. Keffer got kicked out of his 107th district seat in 2006 by Allen Vaught (ably profiled by Zac back in December)when the Democrats swept the county and after Keffer got targeted by the anti-school choice lobby.

Hornsby, who was in boot camp on Sept. 11, 2001, and who was in Operation Iraqi Freedom II, had just gotten back from St. Paul where he attended the “Rally for the Republic,” which was best described by fark.com as the “biggest gathering of nerds, geeks, and dorks since the 1994 Buck RogersCon when Erin Gray made an appearance.” (I can say that, since I’m one of the Paultard myself.)

Hornsby does not like McCain much. He’s just here to back Keffer. He sees McCain as essentially two peas in a pod.

“My man is Bob Barr.”

(Me, too, but why does our candidate have to look like a fussy French maître d’?)


Jonathan Neerman, head of the Dallas County Republicans, is pretty much indefatigable. Though he does seem to be powered by Diet Pepsi. Too early to tell how the Republicans will do in Dallas this time around, but as long as he’s at the helm Dallas Democrats better be careful. Neerman is witty, urban, self-deprecating, and charming, and — obviously — he’s good at charming the media. (It’s not a man-crush, but it may be a man-gentle squeeze.)

“The Democrats didn’t beat us in 2006. We beat ourselves,” he says.


Last week’s party, the Dallas County Democrats charged for food. For the GOP shindog, it was cash bar but the wings, chips and salsa, and pizza were free.

Democrats never seem to want to feed the hungry when it’s out of their own pockets, it seems.

(Note to Studio Movie Grill: You’re locally headquartered. Is that the best you can do for salsa and hot wings? Shame on you.)


Before the speeches on the big screen began (and they watched it on KERA, which tickled Bill Zeeble, who was sitting next to me) Keffer implored the 300 gathered faithful to get everyone voting.

“We have to act like this is the Republican Party of Dallas County in 1960, and fight for every scrap we can get,” he said.

Then he trotted out the old saw both parties rely on every four years — this is the most important election in history, this will determine the future of the Supreme Court for generations, blah blah blah.

He did bring up the specter of Democrats retaking Austin, and what it would mean with the 2010 census and consequent redistricting, which could cut the low hangers off the Texas GOP for at least a decade.


Zeeble, who’s an experienced political reporter, and I discussed the polls that show McCain and Obama neck-and-neck at 42 percent.

I asked him why — given a troubled economy, an unpopular war, a very unpopular Republican president — why is it tied? Shouldn’t this be a cake walk for the Democrats?

He said that was a good question, and I was immensely pleased with myself. Not easy to hold your own with the smart KERA types.


Republican State Rep. Tony Goolsby of the 102nd told everyone, “If there’s a Republican on the ballot (all the way down the ballot) you have to assume he or she is the best choice and vote for them,” he said.

Which, considering he was talking to the party faithful, seemed redundant.

And then U.S. Sen. John Cornyn showed up in a surprise.

Which is weird, because shouldn’t he be in St. Paul like every other important Republican?

He says he was back in Texas owing to concern over Gustav, which just doesn’t ring true. So was Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, but that was two days ago, and Gustav is old news.

So it means one of two things:

1) Republicans are seriously worried and really trying to fire up their base to avoid more losses in Dallas County.


2) Republicans think Dallas County Democrats are vulnerable, and they’re trying to fire up their base to start retaking it.

The Republican base’s uneasy acceptance of John McCain was evident in something Cornyn said, though he phrased well.

“Do I agree with John McCain 100 percent of the time? Heck, my wife doesn’t agree with me 100 percent of the time. And since she’s not here right now, I’ll even tell you I don’t agree with her 100 percent of the time,” he said.


Despite the ubiquitous professionally made McCain, Palin, McCain/Palin, Sessions, and other GOP candidate signs, some brought handmade ones. Something seems wrong about a cheap sign that reads “Park Cities for Palin” that looks like it was made with kindergarten supplies and by kindergarteners. But then on the floor in St. Paul you saw the same thing — a few hand-mades in the sea of uniformly perfect signs — so it clicks that there’s a professionally managed and artificial attempt at authenticity going on somewhere.


— (L-R) Will Sanders, Leslie Sorrell, Chance Turner, and James Carter)

Four people walked in dressed in robes, headdresses, and carrying shepherd’s crooks.

“We’re pilgrims on our way to the promised land of universal health care, 20-hour work weeks, and hope,” said James Carter.


When McCain took the stage, it was my cue to head back to the bar. I wanted to hear the speech without live applause, and these folks were Rose Bowl level excited.

Tony Goolsby was at the bar talking to someone named Joey beneath the two flat screens showing NBC’s coverage in St. Paul. They didn’t shut up for the first 10 minutes of McCain’s speech.

The whole McCain side seems animated now. But then again, these are the party faithful, along with some conservatives coming back into the fold.

Will their bounce fade as quickly as Obama’s did?

Despite the theater hosting the Republicans, other screens were playing the horrible September releases like Babylon AD. Some folks at the bar were moviegoers, not Republicans.

There was a black couple to my left. He was doing the whole smooth, Billy Dee Williams patter on her, sipping some concoction with Hennessey in it, but she wasn’t paying much attention. She asked the bartender to turn up the volume and to put on the closed captioning so she could hear what McCain was saying. McCain was at the part where he was talking about, yep, Palin again, when the camera panned over to her again.

“Yeah,” said the woman at the bar, “I like her.”

Tell me we don’t have a real contest now.


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30 responses to “Dallas Does St. Paul: GOP Watch Party Notebook”

  1. Wes Mantooth says:

    On the Diane Ream show this morning, the weekly news roundup folks observed that many/most of the GOP senators who are running for re-election this year were not in attendance in St. Paul. Speculation was that the Republican “brand” is flagging and as a group the Senators don’t want to run as GOP candidates per se. If the Beltway consensus among GOP staff is that the Senators should be at home rather than seen at the convention, that’s a third alternative to why Cornyn was at the party instead of in St. Paul.

    Or maybe he knew about the free wings?

  2. Gwyon says:

    “… after the ugly Democrat attacks on the woman.”


  3. jasonleonwright says:

    Jonathan Neerman is a good guy. I went to high school with him. And it’s true when he says, “The Democrats didn’t beat us in 2006. We beat ourselves.” Republicans have been horrible in charge. Now, it looks like they may have a chance by bringing in a pro-creationism, pro-oil, pro-life at all cost (“Even if her own daughter was raped.”), anti-sex education (the horror), etc. It’s too tiring to list all the maddening things about her. Yeah, Republicans lost charge by their own actions, and let’s hope like hell that they don’t get it back.

  4. Atticus says:

    I was in the rear with the gear as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, not in Iraq.

    The Rally for the Republic was in Minneapolis, not St. Paul.

  5. Trey Garrison says:

    Correctifying. Thanks again, and good to meet you last night, Atticus.

  6. Glenn Hunter says:

    Gwyon: Figured you would have been following the news. Just for starters, how about–belittling her years as an Alaska mayor; accusing her of faking a pregnancy to cover for her daughter; charging she’s “taken on too much” professionally, given her large family; and intimating an adulterous affair. We call this: Running scared.

  7. J Paul says:


    You lost me at “Obama’s lackluster acceptance speech…”. [rolling eyes]

  8. Trey Garrison says:

    By reckoning the polls, looks like Obama lost a lot of people with his lackluster speech, too. So neither of us is alone, J Paul.

  9. Gwyon says:

    Glenn, the shots–if you can even call them that–at her being a small-town mayor were actually responses to the earlier, similar criticism Karl Rove leveled at then-VP-hopeful Tom Kaine. And is that even an “ugly attack” to begin with? If you think so, you might need to either toughen up a bit or invest in a fainting couch.

    I guess I assumed when Trey said “ugly democrat attacks” he was talking about actual attacks by actual democrats and not an obscure Daily Kos blogger.

    But if you call that running scared, so be it. I guess that means Obama was signaling his willingness to go to the mattresses when he unequivocally declared those subjects out of bounds right off the bat.

    Now about Troopergate…

  10. Trey Garrison says:

    You mean when she tried to get a cop fired for Tasering a 10-year-old child?


  11. Gwyon says:

    Not quite, Trey. But it’s good to know that a self-proclaimed small-government libertarian supports the privilege of elected officials to use the machinery of government to settle personal vendettas and then lie about it … allegedly.

    You do realize that the guy who did end up getting fired wasn’t the officer, but the guy who was actually doing his job by the book, right? Just collateral damage I suppose.

  12. Trey Garrison says:

    The director of public safety who wouldn’t break the blue line? Shocking again.

    You have proof Palin’d lying?

  13. Gwyon says:

    “…no pressure was ever put on anybody to fire anybody,” said Palin on July 18th.

    But I’ll wait until the probe is over before I delete any allegedlys. Hopefully Palin has a another change of heart and decides to cooperate with the investigation. In the meantime, you can decide for yourself.

  14. Norman says:

    The ugly Democrat attacks? Toughen up, fellas. I’d rather all campaigns be attack-free, because I’m a giant wuss. But the GOP isn’t getting any worse than it’s given. I might be in the tank for the opposition, but it’s still true. It’s not running scared; it’s running your kind of campaign. ‘Bout time the Dems manned up.

  15. Trey Garrison says:

    So you’re saying the Democrats’ idea of being a man is to attack a 17-year-old girl?

    Yeah, I figured it was something like that.

  16. Saakashvili says:

    Palin is a religious extremist. No more no less.

    “Governor Palin appears out of touch with many people of faith, who are desperate for leaders who will move our country beyond the politics of division,” said James Salt, organizing director of the centrist Catholics United.

    The moderate Interfaith Alliance said it was concerned by Palin’s “theocratic rhetoric.”

  17. Trey Garrison says:

    Can you produce a theocratic law or bill Palin authored or signed into law?

  18. diahh says:

    So where’s the link, dood?

    Here you go. Here’s another one. How about that, here’s another one. Nothing says “democrats aren’t attacking the daughter” like demands for paternity tests. But before you go thinking that democrats are horrible people who don’t mind attacking a 17 year old girl to further their personal politics, they have a good reason

    I hate to drag poor Bristol into this. But, her mother’s position on abortion, and that of John McCain, are too salient in this election.

    Can’t you see how broken up they are about having to bring poor Bristol into this? Of course you can. I’d provide more links, but Markos seems to have deleted them from his obscure blog.

  19. Gwyon says:

    Like I said, if you have to invoke the posts of a few obscure left-wing bloggers to prove that democrats are “attacking a 17-year-old girl,” you’re not making a very effective argument. All your proving is that you can’t find a single remotely significant democrat who’s attacking her.

  20. diahh says:

    Like I said, if you have to invoke the posts of a few obscure left-wing bloggers

    Yes, that’s exactly what i though you’d say. Unfortunately for you, those “obscure left wing bloggers” are the ones that started the frenzy

    In less than 48 hours, the allegations by a Kos diarist known as ArcXIX ricocheted into the mainstream media

    No “significant democrat” has to dirty themselves with this because the liberal blogosphere and the media do their work for them. Remember that link i provided to a deleted Kos diary? That was the ArcXIX diary that “ricocheted into the mainstream media”. But, i found it posted somewhere else. As for Troopergate, well, good luck with that. But don’t worry, i’m sure those “obscure left wing bloggers” will start another meme soon enough.

  21. amanda says:

    It’s fun to watch paid bloggers go at it!!!

  22. Atticus says:

    Bob Barr is the only presidential candidate to meet the deadline for the ballot in TX. Unfortunately, I doubt TX will follow its own election laws.

  23. Atticus says:

    I thought Cornyn was still in Texas to look over constituents that might have been affected by the hurricane.

  24. Trey Garrison says:

    I have it on good authority he planned to be in Dallas Thursday a month before Gustav was even a tropical depression.

  25. Gwyon says:

    More ugly attacks from democrats:

    “Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

    The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later—to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing. While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once. These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

    As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state. In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s surplus, borrow for needs.”

    “Don’t be fooled,” Obama told the crowd surrounding him in a large barn. “John McCain’s party, with the help of John McCain, has been in charge” for nearly eight years. “I know the governor of Alaska has been saying she’s change, and that’s great,” Obama said. “She’s a skillful politician. But, you know, when you’ve been taking all these earmarks when it’s convenient, and then suddenly you’re the champion anti-earmark person, that’s not change. Come on! I mean, words mean something, you can’t just make stuff up.” McCain has vowed to wipe out earmarks, which are targeted funding for specific projects that lawmakers put into spending bills. As governor, Palin originally supported earmarks for a controversial $398 million Alaska project dubbed the “bridge to nowhere.” But she dropped her support after the state’s likely share of the cost rose. She hung onto $27 million to build the approach road to the bridge. Under Palin’s leadership, Alaska this year asked for almost $300 per person in requests for pet projects from one of McCain’s top adversaries: indicted Sen. Ted Stevens. That’s more than any other state received, per person, from Congress for the current budget year. Other states got just $34 worth of local projects per person this year, on average, according to Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based watchdog group.The state government’s earmark requests to Congress in her first year in office exceeded $550 million, more than $800 per resident.

  26. Grumpy Demo says:

    “You have proof Palin’d lying?”

    Yes, twice. Next question please.

    It’s called real reporting, not NRO wishful thinking.


    Fired Commissioner: Palin Hasn’t Been Truthful on Trooper-Gate By Zachary Roth – September 4, 2008, 12:47PM

    “Palin has been caught out in falsehoods on Trooper-Gate at least twice before. She originally said that her administration didn’t exert pressure on Monegan to fire Wooten, but had to backtrack after evidence emerged that contradicted that stance.

    She also has claimed that she discussed Wooten with Monegan only in the context of the safety of her family. But yesterday, the Washington Post published emails from Palin to Monegan in which she expressed frustration that Wooten was still employed.”

    Let’s also not forget she has tried to ban books and then attempted to fire the librarian the said no. (Citation will be provided if needed.) I know, to most Repub’s there’s nothing wrong with that kind of behavior.

  27. Grumpy Demo says:

    Regarding the Right Wing Echo Chamber’s vapors over mythical attacks on Palin’s daughter by we Demos.

    “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?
    Because her father is Janet Reno.”
    -John McCain

    I believe that Chelsea was 13 at the time.

    Leadership and judgment.

    Citation: http://www.salon.com/news/1998/06/25newsb.html

  28. Grumpy Demo says:

    “You have proof Palin’d lying?”

    Here a another example, it too easy:

    BC’s Political Punch reports on Sarah Palin’s speech today:

    “She said she “championed reform of earmark spending by Congress, and I told the Congress thanks but no thanks on that ‘Bridge to Nowhere'”, she said, ommiting (sic) mention that she’d campaigned for governor supporting the bridge.”

    This is a flat out documented by her statements (recorded) and numerous interviews for the record.


    More straight talk from the GOP.