Gustav or not, RNC partiers party onby Chris Roberts, Minnesota Public Radio
Hurricane Gustav may have given the Republican National Convention a less celebratory, more respectful tone, but that doesn't mean the RNC will be completely devoid of fun.
The convention party scene was revving up in Minneapolis last night, and GOP revelers weren't hesitant to take part.
St. Paul, Minn. — The convention's first day may have a somber tone, but take boisterous rocker and Republican leaning Sammy Hagar at First Avenue, add more than 500 GOP conventioneers and you've got a party on your hands.
In this case, it was a private bash for Republicans from southern states. Even as some delegates headed back home to the Gulf Coast, Walker Rutherfurd of Mobile, Ala., had a clear conscience about staying and rocking to Sammy Hagar.
"I'm worried, but hurricanes are nothing new," he said. "Life goes on. You do what you can to prepare, then let God take care of the rest."
This is Rutherfurd's first convention, a history making event, as he puts it, and he likes the Yankee hospitality he's experiencing.
"I feel like everybody from Minnesota is originally from the south because y'all are so nice," he said.
There were more nice words for the convention's host state from Jenny, who had taken a break from the concert to share a smoke with a friend. Jenny is a Republican who lives in Washington D.C., but hails from Nashville. She had a warning. Folks from the South may sound friendly, but it's not sincere.
"Southerners, we're more like superficial nice," she said. "I like the Midwestern sensibility because I appreciate the friendliness."
As for partying while people from her region suffered through another hurricane, Jenny didn't see a problem.
"I mean you have a lot of people in a town visiting, they came here for one purpose, and something has happened to change that purpose, so you're telling them they should stay in the hotel rooms?" she said. "I don't know, I mean, they've spent money to come to a town, they're here, and I think it's sort of great for everyone to congregate together, you know?"
One GOP supporter who thought it was good the convention was going to be more subdued this time around.
"It's going to showcase how good the response is tomorrow, juxtaposed with how bad it was with Katrina," said Brian, from North Carolina. "That's what you're going to see."
Brian says he's heard many of the private parties are going to be turned into fundraisers for hurricane relief.
Since Brian hadn't said any thing about the locale for the RNC, a reporter asked his companion, Betty, about her first impression of the Twin Cities.
"Unbelievable, because of the host I have, interviewing me," she said.
Finally, up the street at a packed Fine Line Music Cafe was 23-year-old Nick of Maple Grove, who was attending a private function benefiting the Screen Actors Guild.
Nick, a self-described Republican who now regrets voting for President Bush, is hoping his friends who work for the party can get him into the convention. Nick said he thinks it's politically smart for John McCain to scale back the festivities, but don't tell the recent college grad when he can or cannot party.
"I didn't have any handouts, I didn't take student loans, I paid my entire way, I worked two jobs," he said. "I have the right to vote, who I want to vote for, and I have the right to party if I want to party, you know what I mean?"
"I'm paying for the streets, I'm paying for everything so, you can tax me as much as you want, I can party as much as I want," he said.
And with that, Nick's entourage swooped him up, and pulled him back into the party at the Fine Line.
- Morning Edition, 09/01/2008, 7:54 a.m.