Local delegate: GOP united
September 6, 2008
ST. PAUL ” Pitkin County’s sole delegate to the recent Republican National Convention, Frieda Wallison, said Friday that she believes the event succeeded in solidifying the party behind the presidential ticket of U.S. Sen. John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
“There are still a few Ron Paul supporters [referring to the Texas congressman who failed in a bid to win the Republican nomination],” Wallison said, “who are not happy.”
But, she contended, the party is now close to 100 percent behind the McCain-Palin ticket.
“I would say, if it’s not 100 percent, it’s 99.9 percent,” she said.
The Los Angeles Times reported last week that, during the traditional roll call vote that anointed McCain as the party’s candidate, a number of votes cast for Paul were not counted. In fact, according to the story, microphones were turned off before delegates could voice their votes, and the votes of some delegates for Paul were not announced by the party secretary, meaning they were not added to the total.
The Times reported that one reporter counted 15 votes for Paul from the floor, but only five votes were officially tallied.
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Still, Wallison said, the supporters of the other candidates who failed to win the nomination, including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani, all fell in step behind their candidates in supporting the party’s nomination of McCain.
“I thought Rudy Giuliani’s speech on Wednesday was terrific,” Wallison recalled, “and Fred Thompson’s speech on Tuesday.”
And, Wallison continued, she is solidly behind McCain’s choice for vice president.
“I’m intrigued by her biography,” said Wallison, a retired lawyer and a developer in Basalt. She explained that she is impressed by Palin being a working mother with a decade and a half of government experience behind her, and specifically that Palin appears to be holding up well “more recently in some pretty demanding situations.”
Wallison said that at one of the many breakfast meetings that she attended as part of the convention’s activities, Cindy McCain, the presidential candidate’s wife, was introduced by Todd Palin, husband of the vice-presidential candidate.
In his introduction, Wallison said, Palin joked that had he known a few years ago that his wife would end up on the national political stage, “he might have objected more strenuously when she started working on the PTA.” It has become part of the Palin story that she got her start in politics by volunteering for the PTA because she was unhappy with the way the schools in Wasilla, Alaska were being run.
Wallison also said that Cindy McCain joked that she was happy to have a man as the spouse of the potential vice-president, thereby eliminating the “need to color-coordinate outfits” for public events.
Regarding Palin, Wallison said, “I certainly relate to her, as a woman, and … I think the media critique of her [is] terribly unfair.”
Wallison termed it “pretty sexist stuff” when Palin’s critics targeted her lack of experience, and the fact that Palin’s 17-year old, unwed daughter is four months pregnant. Palin has been governor of Alaska for less than two years, and before that served as city councilwoman and then mayor of Wasilla from 1992 until 2002.
“She’s been the mayor of a town … the governor of a state … a reformer who’s been very effective,” Wallison said of Palin. “I think there was a tremendous amount of support for her, after people had a chance to digest this rather surprise choice ” not surprising, just a surprise.”
The criticism of Palin in the wake of the announcement of her selection, said Wallison, “reinforced the support that had already been building for her.”
As for McCain’s acceptance speech on Thursday, Wallison said, “I was quite moved by it. Tactically, it was the right speech to give. I mean, he is not an orator, I think we can all agree on that, but he did a terrific job.”
During the speech, she said, “Everyone in the arena was hanging on his every word, cheering him on,” except for “one or two, or maybe it was three people who were, I think, part of Code Pink,” a national women’s organization that had a presence at both the RNC and the Democratic National Convention a week earlier in Denver, Colorado.
The Code Pink members, she said, heckled both McCain and Palin during their acceptance speeches, but were shouted down by the crowd chanting “U.S.A, U.S.A.” until security guards could haul the troublemakers away.
Wallison, contacted by telephone early Friday, indicated she had gotten to bed well after midnight and “only got three or four hours of sleep” before it was time to get up and go.
Somewhat groggy after Thursday night’s excitement, Wallison and her husband, Peter, were preparing on Friday morning to board a plane to Washington, D.C. She said that her husband, Peter was “an early McCain supporter,” had once worked as an advisor to the late Pres. Ronald Reagan, and now is a consultant on economic issues to the McCain campaign.
And when she returns to Aspen next week, she said, she plans to get right to work to get out the McCain-Palin vote in Pitkin County and the rest of the Roaring Fork Valley.