Throughout the week, several Kentucky Republicans attending the Republican National Convention in St. Paul will be reporting back with their observations and accounts of their experiences.
Shannon Rickett, 28, is attending her first Republican National Convention as an alternate delegate. Rickett, a McConnell scholar at the University of Louisville, works for the National Institute for Hometown Security in Corbin and is a lawyer by training.
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September 1, 2008, marked a significant and unique day in the history of American political conventions. On this day politics were pushed aside and the hearts, prayers, and energy of convention attendees turned to the people of the Gulf Coast region and the impact of Hurricane Gustav. It seemed at every turn people were looking for ways to assist family, friends, and even complete strangers affected by the storm.
Speaking from the convention floor, first lady Laura Bush reminded the audience that people come before politics. "Our first priority today is to ensure the safety and well being of those living in the Gulf Coast region," she stated. "When such events occur, we are reminded that first, we are all Americans and that our shared American ideals will always transcend political parties and partisanship."
Cindy McCain encouraged everyone to visit www.CauseGreater.com to help those in areas affected by Hurricane Gustav.
Over the next couple of days the Kentucky delegation, along with other convention attendees, will join Target, FedEx, and the Red Cross to help assemble and send approximately 80,000 " comfort packages" to people affected by the hurricane.
Although opening day ceremonies for the Republican National Convention were scaled back there were a number of additional highlights. The Xcel Energy Center was beautifully decorated in red, white, and blue. Front and center on the stage was a brilliantly lit screen displaying the familiar red and white stripes of the American flag blowing in the wind. The flag provided the perfect backdrop as Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan, an Eastern Kentuckian, called the convention to order.
It was exciting to watch a fellow Kentuckian lead the delegates through the first steps of nominating Senator John McCain for president and Governor Sarah Palin for vice president. Chairman Duncan did an outstanding job and truly made Kentucky proud.
Minneapolis/St. Paul did an outstanding job preparing for the 2008 Republican National Convention. Everywhere we go there are scores of volunteers providing helpful information and greeting convention attendees with a warm "Minnesota Welcome."
So far the entire Republican National Convention experience has been wonderful. Personal highlights of the first day include meeting several well-known Republican leaders, including Karl Rove and Senator Phil Gramm.
My advice to future Republican National Convention attendees is to carry a camera everywhere you go and pack comfortable shoes.