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Convention Beat: August 13, 2008 Archive

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Party down

Posted at 11:33 AM on August 13, 2008 by Tim Nelson (1 Comments)

Politico has found an "enthusiam" gap among Republicans headed for their national convention in St. Paul this year. They've got a piece saying that the party regulars are staying away.

They blame the "flyover land" reputation of Minnesota, Republican struggles elsewhere and the traveling rock-and-roll show that has become the Barack Obama campaign.

It's just the latest sign that next month's RNC may not be the be-all and end-all it seemed on first blush.

crowd-1.jpgA third of the slots for St. Paul's "Open Forum Stage" for instance, went begging this week, although they'll reopen the lottery for them next Tuesday. Free speech just doesn't draw the crowd it used to, apparently.

And while they're not saying so publicly -- they'll never admit to being anything but braced for the worse case scenario -- some local cops are saying they're dialing down their expectations. They point, aside, to any number of factors that may help them keep the peace:

  1. Oil prices are making it very expensive to fly or drive from any distance to the convention, either to participate or protest. It's well into four figures to fly a couple back and forth to between New York and the Twin Cities these days.
  2. Many schools start the same week, and people may be reluctant to skip the first day and being with their kids to attend to a foregone conclusion at the Xcel Energy Center.
  3. John McCain just doesn't ignite the passion, on either side, as other candidates. He's had what many consider to be a noble military career and he's strayed regularly from the Republican fold.
  4. Other large demonstrations have been quieter of late. The immigration protests in Los Angeles and even here in Minnesota were quieter this year than last and traditional agitators don't seem to be able to draw people to them as they have in the past. "They seem to be more and more standing alone," one police official notes.
  5. A generational change seems to be making Internet, not pavement, the place to express yourself. Authorities think the days of bodies in the street may be giving way to blogs, banner ads, online contributions and even high-tech billboards and other public displays.
  6. The potential to get admission to an actual event is a lot higher in Denver. You're a lot more likely to see a presidential candidate in person at Invesco Field than the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

And of course, all of this speculation could be proven utterly worthless come Labor Day. But whatever happens, rest assured our ethusiasm for bringing it to you will never flag.

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A sign of the convention times

Posted at 5:54 PM on August 13, 2008 by Tim Nelson (0 Comments)

Ironically enough, Father John Estrem announced a new public awareness campaign for the homeless underneath a freeway overpass this morning.

The Catholic Charities CEO started out in the shadow of the Interstate 94 bridge over the Bruce Vento trail at the south end of Swede Hollow in St. Paul. The bridge piers, by the way, are fenced off to keep people from living under them.

The site was right below a billboard Catholic Charities put up, calling for "food, shelter and dignity."

billboard-1.JPGSo how much food, shelter and dignity would a billboard buy, anyway?

I asked Estrem today, after he wrapped up the Q&A about the month-long campaign that would coincide with the Republican National Convention.

Catholic Charities officials wouldn't talk about the dollars and cents of the project, but Estrem said it was worth doing.

"We do believe its worth the money, because of how it raises the dialog, and helps us to engage a whole lot more people, some of whom become donors, quite frankly," Estrem said. "But, you know, [outdoor advertising company] Clear Channel was very good to us, gave us a very nice discount. All of the art work was donated by some of our friends, so the cost really wasn't that high. Not nearly as high as some people might think it is. And how it raises the dialog is really important."

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Around and around and around the Xcel Center

Posted at 8:14 PM on August 13, 2008 by Tim Nelson (0 Comments)

We sent out MPR staffer Preston Wright to take a look around the Xcel Energy Center with his super-cool panoramic video lens. It's just way, way cooler than the Clevr workaround I've been using.

Here's what he found underway behind the Minnesota Club. It looks like some industrial-strength hospitality construction underway between the club and the RiverCentre. Hold down your left mouse button and scroll across the frame to pan around the image:





Below is what it looks like over on the other side of the arena. This is the off-site media compound in the Travelers parking lot that we showed empty last week:




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Blogging on the radio

Posted at 9:10 PM on August 13, 2008 by Tim Nelson (0 Comments)

I'm talking about the Republican National Convention on Morning Edition today.

Here are the links to the other coverage I mentioned:

Politico says Republicans have an "enthusiasm gap."

Forbes says media outlets, strained by the economy and expense of covering the Olympics in China, the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the RNC in St. Paul are trimming their field staff by as much as 20 percent.

The Los Angeles Times says Republicans nearly came up short on their fundraising.

The cheapest flight between New York and Minnesota is $430 per person right now, according to Orbitz. And you have to fly through Charlotte, N.C., to get that. Non-stop is a whopping $601 per seat, including that nifty new baggage charge.

Gas prices may seem a little less insane than a month ago, but they're still up $1.04 nationwide compared to last year. The national average is $3.80 this week.

This is the latest Republican National Convention in history. No Democratic National Convention has ever started in September, either.

Atlanta's 1988 awakening, from Maria Saporta's Business Insider blog

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