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Blogging the Convention: Hangin' with the GOP stars

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 2, 2008 - Hanging out with Gov. Matt Blunt

I had the privilege of speaking with Gov. Matt Blunt this morning. I asked him about what he was most proud of during his term in office. Without hesitation, he mentioned the budget and jobs.

The governor was understandably proud that he had erased a billion-dollar budget shortfall and balanced the budget without raising taxes -- and that he had cut taxes three times. Because of fiscal discipline and pro-growth policies, like lawsuit reform and regulatory improvements, Blunt said that Missouri has a healthy budget surplus and tens of thousands of new jobs while other states are struggling. Blunt believes that his administration fostered economic growth, fixed a broken budget, was a responsible steward of tax dollars, all placing the state in good footing to move into the future.

I also asked him about Missouri's efforts in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the hurricane. Blunt reported on the hundreds of National Guard members already in Louisiana and said that he had personally spoken with Gov. Bobby Jindal to promise any resources that Missouri could provide. To help those affected by the storm, evacuation centers have been set up across Missouri.

My final question touched upon Gov. Blunt's convention responsibilities. He is a Missouri delegate, attending the Republican Governors' Association events, and telling journalists about the importance of Missouri to the national election and his excitement for the McCain/Palin ticket.

Gov. Blunt has spent a lot of time these past few days with the delegation, and I am looking forward to spending more time with him the rest of the week.

Lunch on Tuesday --with a surprise visitor

The Missouri delegation luncheon featured an amazing line of speakers: John McCain's mom Roberta, Medal of Honor winners Col. Bud Day (McCain's cellmate) and Col. Roger Donlon, John Bolton, former Maryland Senate candidate Michael Steele, and a surprise visit by Rudy Giuliani. Pictures and quotes will be posted later. Now, we're off to an event and then the convention tonight.

More from Monday: The Convention works its  magic 

Walking into the convention hall is like walking into a political dream. There are the thousands of delegates milling around the floor, beneath the large triangular signs identifying each delegation. There is the carefully constructed stage, with the bright broadcast news lights beaming from all around. And there are the patriotic symbols, the flags on the stage, the flags on the video screen and the flags draped from the stands, and the red, white and blue balloons hanging from the rafters, patiently waiting to take their celebratory journey.

I have wanted to attend a convention ever since I began watching these political gatherings in 1992, as a little 7-year-old. My first glimpse of the real thing did not disappoint. I was in absolute awe the entire time, looking around, soaking everything in.

Monday's convention session consisted largely of procedural business: appointments, escort committees, platform. The highlight of the day came when first lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain spoke. Laura Bush and Cindy McCain both carried themselves with such wonderful grace. Mrs. Bush spoke confidently, in a soft white dress with gentle lace edges. She is beloved by Republicans and was rather embarrassed by the prolonged applause, the loud cheering and whistling, and the Texans waving their cowboy hats. Mrs. McCain wowed many of the Missouri women with her dress, a beautiful gold with a shine and radiance that filled the room. Her speech was shorter and quieter than Mrs. Bush's, but the tone fit the moment perfectly.

From the convention, several delegates and I attended the Republican National Lawyers Association. Sen. Sam Brownback gave a passionate speech about the importance of the Supreme Court and the need for more strict-constructionist judges in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts. Trevor Potter, the general counsel for the McCain campaign, spoke and hinted at a tremendous fundraising report for the month of August.

You may read Lucinda's post for the nightlife report, so I won't cover that. Needless to say, I may be young, but 3 a.m. bedtimes still make it difficult to rise and shine at 6:30 a.m.

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