Obviously the rest of my blogger allies in Richmond are going to be posting a series of items. Rather than attempt to give you a story, I’ll give you observations — albeit randomly — and in real time. Some of the things you can’t communicate to the rest of the world are items like the atmosphere, conversations about idea, or the sights and sounds. Hopefully, I’ll do my best to communicate this.
1. RPV Bloggers Row is excellent — right up front and close to the action. The MSM press box? Tucked away and to the back. Some reporters aren’t happy about the arrangement, as NBC 12’s Ryan Nobles comments
ryanobles http://twitpic.com/699e3 – My view at #rpv09. Press row is not as choice as bloggers row.
There was a general sentiment that most folks knew what the MSM was going to write, and probably negative towards the RPV. So… Not only are the digs better for bloggers, but access to principles is excellent. Jim Hoeft over at Bearing Drift is practically scoring every interview possible (in fact, they are coming to him). I wouldn’t quite call it “blood in the water” in a sense, but the idea that independent bloggers will get the message out in a professional manner has been made very clear.
2. Acoustics. Yes it’s the Colossieum, and the A/V is pretty good. But the bounce off the back end of the court is noticable. Almost like having a convention in a cave!
3. Jim Hoeft and I are getting ready to interview Rep. Eric Cantor at 11am. No idea whether it will be simulcast over the web, but check back to the McDonnell website and RPV.org.
4. Lots of McDonnell and Brownlee signs on the seats coming in. Few Foster and Cuccinelli signs, and just by a visual count there are a fair number of Bill Stanley for RPV Chairman sickers around — more than I think makes members of Camp Mullins comfortable. Last night, the Stanley hospitality suite was indeed packed, and most of that spilled over into the Jeffersoniad suite next door. All that having been said, the Cuccinelli buses have been streaming in… I could very well have been wrong about Foster coming in second place.
5. There’s no way there’s 11,000 people here. I estimate somewhere close to 6,000 as of 10.41am.
6. Speeches from the podium so far: Jobs, AG Experience, Veterans, Child Predators, Food Banks, saving St. Joseph Catholic School (which has to be the most selfless act I’ve seen a politician perform — ever)…
7. Just finished interviewing Rep. Cantor on the importance of the 2009 elections in Virginia. Great interview, hopefully the audio picked up. I did get a chance to tour the media booth Ryan mentioned earlier… it is indeed as terrible as he mentioned. Missing the first part of McDonnell’s speech, but I’m hearing a lot of transportation issues right now.
8. So is “just say yes” the new “yes we can”? McDonnell has the crowd contrasting the Democratic negative record with the positive Republican vision… they’ll say no, we’ll “just say yes” over and over again… Blogger’s Row not feeling it — “feels forced” says the cynics.
9. Former RPV Chairman Jeff Frederick is Tweeting that he is finally making his way down to Richmond, hoping the establishment doesn’t win today. Convention is enjoying the establishment’s menu so far…
10. McDonnell speech over, crowd goes wild, music at 110 decibles. Gotta love groupthink as a convention strategy! And given the speeches that McDonnell gave in 2005, this one was polished and well delivered, and the crowd ate it up.
11. Walt Curt introduces Sean Hannity… prediction: applause for Hannity will be louder than applause for McDonnell.
12. Prediction affirmed.
13. RPV access to the internet keeps refreshing every 15-20min. Many grumblings as one is forced to reinforce. Meanwhile, Hannity is pumping Fox News. Wants change after five months of Barack Obama and Princess Pelosi. If Bush did what Obama has done — giving an iPod to the Queen of England, bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia (huge boos…), Air Force One over New York City for a photo op, if Bush spoke from a teleprompter, if Bush closed Gitmo and brought the terrorists to Virginia, what would the Democrats have done?
I’m afraid I won’t have too much to say on Hannity’s commentary… I am not a fan of infotainment, never have been, and find the zingers and one-liners boring and ultimately find playing to our baser instincts a terrible disservice to ourselves. Sorry, not a talk radio kind of guy.
14. Matthew and Caroline are with me at Bloggers Row, and they are being wonderful. I tell ya, those two kids are absolute troopers. Besides, they have front row seats to the convention! Jonathan is up with the Fluvanna GOP delegation marshalling votes for Cuccinelli (that’s my boy) and Marie and Sarah are with Mrs. Kenney helping Jonathan. What a great family, eh?
15. Hannity mentioned McAuliffe. Wow… talk about a disliked guy. McAuliffe, I mean. 🙂
16. DPVA is fighting back with talking points. There’s a great deal of suspicion that the Dems have Guest Passes to the convention and are sending back talking points et al. to the DPVA mothership. Well played, as security here is very weak. Hannity went over well.
17. Credentials committee reporting 11,007 delegates registered to the convention. 6,817 delegates actually in attendance (so I was close), and over 1,000 guests.
18. Cheers for Bolling and Muldoon about even... cheers for Brownlee were good, cheers for Cuccinelli were loud, long, and sustained. It was almost a collective sigh of relief for a Cuccinelli camp who did not know where they stood. Foster was about the same as Brownlee, so we shall see.
19. Bolling delivering his speech — you qickly realize how important convention speeches are when you’re here on the ground. They can literally make, break, or seal a deal — and Bolling is doing well.
20. Muldoon introduced to “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”. Giving the “did they consult you?” speech about which values, which candidates, and which ideas they would run on. Camp Bolling trying to spike the punch a bit with the chant “Bolling! Bolling!” without much success. The “no’s” are getting louder… Muldoon is actually winning parts of the crowd. Stood up to see the crowd, but most folks are getting lunch — Powhatan Committee directly behind Bloggers Row. “I want to give Bob McDonnell a tough, principled wingman — not a yes man.”
21. John Brownlee first for the AG introduced to Aaron Copeland. Instead of behind the podium, Brownlee is in the front like a Baptist preacher — neat! Complimented Foster (no applause), complimented Cuccinelli (HUGE APPLA– USE), but re-iterated that while they are great School Board and State Senate members, the Attorney General’s office requires a top prosecutor. Strong on life, strong on gun rights, mandatory E-Verify to “rid our neighborhoods of the illegal immigrants that are here.” As AG, we will abolish the triggerman rule. Big beach balls with Brownlee stickers are being thrown around at the end of the speech… not sure what that’s about.
22. Cuccinelli introduced by a sea of Gasden Flags!!! Oh wow! What an introduction! There is no question that this crowd is pro-Cuccinelli. The question is whether or not with weighted votes, will Cuccinelli carry the day? Cuccinelli is talking up core principles, cheers are the loudest so far. A lot of talk about running on core principles, crowd goes wild. Wow. Defending America under the 10th Amendment of the Constitution… talks up his experience running in Northern Virginia contrasted with his strong conservative voting record and a leader on property rights. Zinged Brownlee back on the death penalty.
23. Foster introduced to some song… can’t ID it, but it sounds good. Foster looks a bit demoralized after Cuccinelli’s speech… spent a good minute waving to the crowd. The Dems are Goliath, and his name just happens to be David (guffaw). Foster crowd much more subdued… Foster will be third.
24. Bill Stanley for RPV Chair to “Life is a Highway”. Not many cheers, surprisingly… and the speech is surprisingly stale. Not sure if that’s a case of a crowd worn out by old speeches, or what.
25. Mullins speech got erased by a technical glitch with the RPV wireless. Still, it was an outstanding speech. A lukewarm crowd tired of speeches was on its feet at the end of Mullins’ ten minutes. Truly outstanding.
26. Initial reviews from Fluvanna County: Bolling 2-1, Cuccinelli by a 6-1 margin, and Stanley by a few votes.
27. Bob McDonnell at Bloggers Row thanking bloggers and interviewing at Bearing Drift again. McDonnell’s willingness to grant access to new media has been tremendous.
28. Signing off for just a moment so that Jonathan can blog his experiences. I told him that he did a great job with Cuccinelli winning Fluvanna. He beamed.
29. INTERVIEW WITH COREY STEWART, PRINCE WILLIAM BOS CHAIRMAN: Corey Stewart held an excellent event at Penny Lane Pub the other night. He’s taken the opportunity to sit down with us and do some Q and A.
Q: So what are you first impressions of the convention?
A: Tremendous excitement here. Clearly the Republican Party is on the resurgence in Virginia, and I think it sets the tone nationally for 2010. It reflects a sense in the community of a sort of “buyers remorse” amongst those who voted for Barack Obama, and it’s a sign of good things to come for the party.
Q: Who do we have running in the 52nd District?
A: Our candidate is Rafael Lopez, who is an excellent candidate who is already working hard and needs our help. We have a real good chance of retaining that seat, the Democrats opposing are very liberal and clearly out of touch. Dems seem to be under the impression that PWC and Virginia as a whole have gone blue and become liberal, and I think what they are going to find that is not the case. I think we’re going to do very well in the 52nd District as well as in the 51st, where I think we’re going to pick up a seat.
Q: Who is running in the 51st District?
A: Rich Anderson. He’s recently retired as a Colonel in the Air Force, has been a hard working, solid Republican. He’s knocked on a lot of doors and he’s doing everything right.
Q: Obviously you held the meet-and-greet last night at Penny Lane, and we’ve seen you hold hospitality suites at the RPV Advance and other functions. Any thoughts about the possibility of running for a higher public office if a chance to serve the voters presents itself?
Definitely interested in that at some point, but that will not be anytime soon. But I want to keep my name out there and stay fresh in people’s minds and learn more about the rest of the state. The most successful candidates are the ones who work for years in preparation for a statewide run.
Q: Illegal immigration. If you read blogs like Black Velvet Bruce Li, you get the feeling that illegal immigration is the issue of most import in Prince William County? Is it that bad? If so how bad is it, what’s the fix?
A couple of years ago we had a serious problem with illegal immigration that was effecting our public safety, our schools, and our neighborhoods. So the policy that we’ve put in place has resulted in a 37% drop in violent crime since adopted. It’s also reduced the number of uninsured births in our hospitals by roughly 500 per year, and the policy has been widely accepted as a tremendous success. Now though, people expect us to move on, and address other issues while maintaining and enforcing the new policy, and that’s what we’ve done.
Q: So I imagine you’ve given some idea as to how the Prince William model could be applied statewide?
A: I think nationally it’s a good model. It focuses on illegal immigrants who commit crimes, and has resulted in the deportation of 1,500 so far. I think you’ll find that our policy will be implemented by an increasing number of localities nationwide.
Q: Perception of race instead of law enforcement?
A: We’ve made very sure that people understand that this is about illegal immigration, not legal immigration, and some of the strongest supporters of the policy have been legal immigrants. I have been reaching into the Latino community in particular to make sure that people understand that this is not based on ethnicity or race, but purely upon enforcing the law to improve public safety.
Q: Do you have any stats on the percentage of Latinos vs. non-Latinos who have been deported?
A: The people who have been deported are illegal immigrants from virtually every inhabited continent in the world.
Q: Who did you come here supporting for the AG candidate?
A: Ken Cuccinelli.
Q. We’re starting to get word that Ken will more than likely win on the 1st ballot — how do you think a McDonnell/Bolling/Cuccinelli ticket will fare against the Dems in Northern Virginia.
A. It’s a perfect ticket, and as the Democratic candidates for governor have moved further and further to the left, I think it’s an excellent opportunity for the Republican Party to regain support of the center, and I think it’s happening right now. It’s doesn’t mean we have to move to the center, it just means we have to address the issues people are most concerned about; jobs, the economy, and taxes. It’s the pocketbook issues I think we have to address, and those are the issues that lead us to victory. We talked about illegal immigration and how we’ve moved on to other issues, and we’ve moved onto the economy, cutting the average tax bill in Prince William by $400, and in doing so we stand alone in the D.C. region.
Q: Thanks for stopping by — great interview!
A: Thanks a lot. Good seeing you!
30. MULDOON CONCEDES. Moves for the nomination of Bill Bolling by acclimation.
31. FOSTER AND BROWNLEE CONCEDE. Foster and Brownlee move jointly for the nomination of Ken Cuccinelli by acclimation.
32. STANLEY CONCEDES. Once again, we are unified against the Democrats. Very graceful in his concession. Moves for the nomination of Pat Mullins by acclimation.
33. INTERVIEW WITH JIM HYLAND
, candidate in the 35th HOD District:
Q: What do you think of the results of the convention?
A: I think we’re going to have a strong ticket in the fall. Been going door to door for months now, Republicans are enthused, the Democrats are actually pleasant… and I think folks want to put the breaks on some of the things going on in D.C.
Q: So obviously your running in Steve Shannon’s old seat. What do you think Cuccinelli’s up against?
A: Steve will be a strong candidate because he plays the role of a very moderate Democrat, so it will be a real fight, and I understand you’re personal friends, but Steve is a very modest Democrat — so he (Steve) will do well.
Q: Do you know who you’re running against in the 35th?
A: No — it’s a four way primary, and we don’t know the results yet, but none have every won public office before or been very active in the community. So I think we’ve got a good head start, I’ve been active in the community for a number of years, and I’ve run for this seat before. And so I’ve been getting a lot of support from people in the community, including the Mayor of Vienna, Tom Davis (lives in the district), Frank Wolf, Senator (John) Warner.
Q: So in the 35th District, what are the key issues?
A: Transportation, jobs, fairness for our college kids, and keeping our high schools strong. My opponents are running to the far left on social issues: gay rights, abortion. So I am the only centrist in the race.
Q: As a social conservative, why is Jim Hyland an advocate for us in Richmond?
A: Well, I am a traditional Republican, and have traditional views on social issues. So I’ll be a reliable vote for mainstream conservative values.
Q: So it sounds like your issues dovetail nicely with the issues of the McDonnell/Bolling/Cuccinelli ticket. How do you think they will do in Northern Virginia?
A: I think the ticket is going to do very well. Bob’s wife, Maureen, is from Northern Virginia, and we’ll be doing a lot of campaigning together, and it’s important to be from the area.
Q: It’s Fairfax County after all… is this race even winnable?
A: In February, Pat Herrity carried the 35th. In 2007, John Frye carried it. Tom Davis reliably got double-digit victories in this district, so it’s a very Republican slice of Fairfax. They all ran as traditional, mainstream Republicans, so I think we can repeat that success.
Q: All right! Thanks for sitting down with us.
A: No problem!
34. McDonnell/Bolling/Cuccinelli have performed the obligatory hands-in-the-air victory pose. The race is on!