Sunday, September 7, 2008

Politics: McCain / Palin Rally

Political rallies are real work to organize and attend. The media doesn’t know this, the local media anyway. They get to come in the back door, the “press” door. For national media, political campaigns are work. That was one message on the faces of the national folk who filed into last night’s John McCain-Sarah Palin rally at the Albuquerque Convention Center. We’re tired, the faces said. One reporter in the group, a woman from the Los Angeles Times, did a bit more than collapse at the table. She came to the edge of the press area and interviewed a woman in the audience for about 15 minutes. I forgot to ask the topic, an oversight that probably is one of many reasons I’m not a national media person.
Oh, well.
This is a long post for me, over 1,100 words. Bear with it. More tomorrow on the work of attending the rally. -HM
NM GOP and a Bad Idea
One aspect of rally-related work came earlier in the day. In attempting to confirm reports of schedule changes for the rally, I called the headquarters of the New Mexico Republican Party. This was after looking at the NMGOP’s Web site where the calendar had no mention of the scheduled rally. Nobody answered the GOP phone.
Step back, now, and review. A party’s presidential candidates and vice presidential candidate are coming to town and there is no calendar item. And no one in the office. Political campaigns ain’t an 8 to 5 job, folks.
But, to digress, I’ve had this responsiveness problem before with the state GOP. A couple of years ago, working on a research project, I went to the GOP headquarters and asked for the general election vote tally book, which is public information. After some hassle, the staff bounced my inquiry to then GOP exec Marta Kramer. After some further hassle, Kramer OKed me using the tally book. She also recognized my name as someone occasionally critical of the GOP in my newspaper column. “Why do you hate us,” Kramer asked. Well, I don’t. It’s just there is so much opportunity.
A year later, while building the mailing list for our now-suspended magazine, Capitol Report New Mexico, I sought information that I figured the party ought to be willing to provide, given the nature of the request—the names and addresses of the people on the state central committee. After all, the Democrats posted that information in Excel. Well, no, came the word from above. And it turned out they wouldn’t even provide the names and addresses of the people who were posted on the GOP site.
Customer friendly, the state GOP is not.
Nor was the state GOP legislator friendly last night. There was no special effort to get tickets to legislators. Some GOP legislators did go. Two were even on the program together—Representatives Larry Larranga and Justine Fox-Young. Larranga’s age wasn’t emphasized, though surely his age was the point of having him come out with Fox-Young, who it was noted, is, well, young.
The rally ended on a customer unfriendly note that is both rude and a flabbergasting invasion of privacy.
Bernalillo County Sheriff and congressional candidate Darren White (a cop, please note) introduced the scheme after repeated use of the word, “me,” in pitching his record, especially with regard to anti-DWI work.
White said that lists of undecided voters would be distributed at the end of the rally. The request was that the people on the list be called and asked to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket, Steve Pearce for Senate and Darren White for Congress. White’s delivery made the situation sound a little odd. But, there they were as we left the rally, volunteers ripping sheets from pads and distributing them.
Each sheet contains eight names, complete with address and telephone. To the right of the name, there were six boxes with little circles for filling in answers to questions. A detail is that no questions were provided. My sheet had names of people in Santa Fe. But should someone be rude enough to make the calls, the caller will appear stupid because Darren White is not running for Congress in Santa Fe. Dan East is. While East hasn’t a ghost of a chance of winning, barring some random intervention, apparently the state GOP has forgotten East is the candidate.
1. I’m not naïve. Lists are created and people are called. Even if these folks are listed in the phone book, this kind of mass distribution of personal information is unacceptable. This is nobody’s business.
2. Generating God knows how many random calls to people is a sure way to annoy them and maybe even drive them to the other ticket.
3. The execution was sloppy.
Media Notes
Not being the stay up late type, I didn’t catch the television reports of the rally. I suppose those reports have run endlessly today, though.
The New Mexican in Santa Fe got a story from the Associated Press that was quite different from what Jeff Jones provided for the Albuquerque Journal. Jones said, basically, it was a rock star environment into which they came, they recycled lines from convention speeches, they left.
Matt Mygatt of the AP got into the environment of the rally. He talked to people in the audience. Mygatt even mentioned that actor Robert Duvall introduced McCain, but went no further, appropriately, as Duvall was peripheral.
Duvall began wonderfully. He said, Give me an Amen. Then he asked for another Amen. And got it. Louder. My mind flashed to Duvall’s character in “The Apostle,” a 1997 movie about a preacher prone to saying, “Thank you, Jesus.” Duvall, 77, is a little older than McCain, but shares the same background. His dad was an admiral and the family lived for a while in Annapolis, home to the Naval Academy and St. John’s College. Duvall’s military service Wikipedia says, was a year in the Army.
The Journal’s Jones offered, and his editors allowed, one bit of gratuitous editorializing. Jones said, “McCain also stressed the need for America to develop a range of energies—including wind, tide and solar.” OK. The sentence then continued, “but said he also would increase drilling.” Hmmm…
Jones’ use of the word, “but,” indicates he may think stuff one drills for is not part of or contradicts the “range of (politically correct) energies.” Wrong.
Sarah Palin’s attire got a six-word description from Jones, “a black skirt and brown jacket.” McCain was described as wearing a suit. Maybe McCain was wearing the pants from a suit. I was too far away to tell. But he was not wearing a suit jacket, nor was he wearing a tie. McCain’s sleeves were rolled up.
As a veteran wearer of the entire suit package—pants, jacket, shirt with sleeves rolled down and tie—I don’t think McCain was wearing a suit.
Final Small Item
At the rally, the media were called, “press.” Even the labels on the transport vans said, “press.”
This use excludes electronic media, er, press. Press means print.
Not a big deal on the scale of things. Such errors do get noticed. Annoying the media is a bad idea.

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