The Republican National Convention in St. Paul is scheduled to end on Thursday and that September 4th date has led to a bit of drama in the printing of ballots for the fall election.
This morning, Dave Roederer – chairman of Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s Iowa campaign — publicly thanked Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro for his understanding. The late date of this convention’s conclusion created a bit of a headache.
"We have a bit of a unique situation in Iowa….Early voting starts like about September 20th or so and in fairness to the secretary of state’s office, they have to have ballots printed and ready to go in a matter of weeks," Roederer says. "…There was an issue as to how we even get on the ballot…Technically, we were faced with a situation where we could have John McCain on the ballot, but no vice presidential candidate."
The minute McCain and Sarah Palin are formally nominated by convention delegates, an attorney for the McCain campaign will FAX a document to the Iowa Secretary of State. It will confirm the McCain/Palin ticket for the Iowa ballot. "They have printers that are actually waiting for that final confirmation so they can start printing the ballots," Roederer says. "Now, it’s not just early voting, but it’s all the ballots we need to start sending overseas for all our military people."
Convention delegates have gathered this afternoon to conduct "essential business" in St. Paul, but the hoopla and political speeches have been jettisoned due to Hurricane Gustav’s arrival on the Gulf Coast. Steve Scheffler, chair of the Iowa G.O.P.’s delegation at the convention, says the scaled back convention schedule isn’t putting a damper on things. "A year ago, I’m not sure that I would have said that we would come to this convention — regardless of who our nominee was — that we were going to be energized," And I think it’s fair to say that even before the choice for vice president was made known that at least I and I think a lot of you probably saw a change in attitude that people were beginning to get on board because they understand that just two months out from the election there’s a lot at stake."
Scheffler says Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was at the top of his list of potential running mates for McCain. "It doesn’t hurt that she’s a woman, but certainly the fact that she’s articulate. She’s sharp. She passes every test with the Republican base and I think (Palin) is going to be exactly what’s needed to get them excited," Scheffler says. "…At this point, I would walk on broken glass to get this team elected."
Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, one of the pack of politicians who campaigned for president in Iowa last year, spoke with Iowa Republicans this morning. "You know in Iowa, that’s where it all started and so congratulations to all of you," Thompson said, to applause from the delegates. "I had some wonderful times and some not so wonderful in Iowa. I managed to make it to every one of your 99 counties — the only candidate that did that. Didn’t help."
Thompson finished poorly in the Iowa G.O.P.’s Straw Poll in August of 2007 and dropped out of the race. Thompson revealed that, just like party nominee John McCain, he had skin removed and tested for cancer. "As you noticed, I’ve got a little bit of a ding on my face on both sides. I had to go in and have some minor surgery for cancer and it’s a good lesson," Thompson said. "Don’t tarry. Don’t wait."
Thompson told the delegates the surgery had "taken care of" the problem and Thompson bragged about a new diet which he said had helped him shed 15 pounds. "I like living so much, I might want to come back in four years to go through 99 counties in Iowa. I doubt it," Thompson said. "…For the first time in my life, I’m making money. I don’t want to give it to my grandchildren yet. I want to be around. I want to see if the Green Bay Packers, you know, can go back to the Super Bowl."
Read about the conventions over on The Radio Iowa Blog. Click on the audio link below to hear all of Thompson’s remarks.