Down-sized convention does not stop Republicans from stumpingby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio,
Curtis Gilbert, Minnesota Public Radio
Today's pared down schedule at the Republican National Convention gave two Minnesota Republicans some extra time to focus on their own campaigns.
Falcon Heights, Minn. — Sixth District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and 3rd District congressional candidate Erik Paulsen both spent the day outside the Xcel Center raising money and meeting potential voters.
Bachmann was accompanied to the state fair with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Because of the hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast, Senator John McCain had asked everyone at the Republican convention to take off their political hats for a day. It seemed like Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann may not have gotten the message.
It was still a day of revved up campaigning for Bachmann, who made an appearance at the Minnesota State Fair and the state GOP party booth.
"Are you glad to be a Republican today?," Bachmann asked the crowd at the State Fair. "We're having a great party this week aren't we? It's an awesome time."
Bachmann went to the fair with Mitt Romney, who was a GOP presidential candidate earlier this year. Romney was also fired up, speaking to those gathered at the GOP booth.
"You're kind to be here for Michele Bachmann," Romney said. "I need you to go out and work for her and work for Republican congressmen and women who agree with you that we don't want bigger government, we want lower taxes."
Earlier in the day, Romney was the special guest at a fundraiser for Bachmann's re-election campaign. Supporters paid $250 per person for brunch. A picture with Romney was $500. In addition, Bachmann asked her supporters to do their part for hurricane victims by donating to Catholic Charities. Bachmann says she considered canceling the fundraiser and fair visit, but she decided to follow through.
"It appeared that the storm was lessening in strength," Bachman said. "And thank goodness, it looks like there will be less and less of a loss of life and hopefully loss of property. That's what we're hoping."
Democrats were quick to criticize Bachmann. Minnesota DFL spokesman Eric Fought said Bachmann's campaign events were not in the spirit of the RNC decision to scale back convention activities.
"Today is a day for people to keep those on the Gulf Coast in their thoughts and prayers. We've scaled back our own operations today, including at the state fair. It's just really unfortunate that Representative Bachmann isn't sensitive to do the same," Fought said.
Back at the fair, Mitt Romney was praising Bachmann for seeking hurricane donations at her fund raising event. Romney was also trying to keep the focus on the Gulf Coast.
"Let's put aside, if you will, the political implications, and I think in the final analysis they won't make a big deal one way or another, and instead focus on the extraordinary challenge that's being felt by families and individuals, small business and the like, all over the gulf coast," Romney said.
For a guy who's no longer a candidate, Romney showed he can still draw an enthusiastic crowd of supporters.
Chad Laing of Vadnais Heights was supporting Romney's presidential bid earlier this year. More recently, Laing was hoping John McCain would pick Romney as his running mate.
"He would have brought a lot of good things to the table, but I think he made a pretty good choice, too," Laing said. "Although a lot of people haven't heard of, I can't even remember her name. Palin? I've never heard of her before, other than she's married to a snowmobile racer, which is good."
If Gustav allows Republicans to return to a normal convention schedule, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will get a prime-time opportunity Wedneday to introduce herself to voters in Minnesota and across the nation.
- All Things Considered, 09/01/2008, 6:37 p.m.
Tim Pugmire covers politics and state government for MPR News.