Friday, September 5, 2008

Republican National Convention - Day 4 Report

Andre Cushing reports: Well here we are at the final day of the GOP Convention ...

It's hard to believe as I sit here in the airport writing this that so much happened in so short a time. Another delegate said it well, “it feels like we have fit three weeks into one.” Our final day breakfast briefing was hosted by former Governor John McKernan and his wife Sen. Snowe. Our guest speaker was Frank Donatelli, Deputy Chair of the Republican Nat’l Committee. Frank served in two White Houses. He shared information on the historic nature of this election and what the results may mean to history.

During the day I went back to Civicfest to view more of exhibits and buy some convention memorabilia. I bought buttons, apparel, gift items and books then packed up 37 lbs of goodies and shipped them home (no lugging extra heavy bags on the plane.) I also went to a special appearance and book signing by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife. I even got to ask him a question during Q&A! It was about his thoughts on the comparison of Gov Palin to another young reform Governor who was nominated VP, one of my favorites Teddy Roosevelt.

I then attended a reception for hosted by the group Republicans for Environmental Protection, where Theodore Roosevelt, IV was the featured speaker. I was really looking forward to meeting him but our transportation bus got stuck in rush hour traffic and I arrived just after he left to catch a plane back to NY. Well maybe another time.

Onto the convention and the concluding night. Things started off with a host of speakers, one of special note was Maine’s own Charlie Summers, running for Congress in the 1st Congressional District. A host of other speakers took the stage leading up to the finale where our presidential nominee would speak.

A video shared parts of Sen. McCain's life story and service to his county. It was a moving look at the man and set a special mood for the evening. Following it, Sen. McCain stepped onto the stage and strode to a podium set on a runway which allowed him to be in the crowd while he spoke (something he is fond of doing.) After his speech he was joined on stage by his whole family and Gov Palin & family. The evening climaxed with lots of confetti and balloons. It was a remarkable night that left us both energized and then exhausted.

As I mentioned in my Day 1 blog this was the third National Convention I attended. It was an incredible experience and I would urge some of you to also consider attending a convention some day. It leaves you with a special feeling and a better understanding of this unique process by which Americans choose their leaders. It is fascinating to many in the world that our elected leader willingly subject themselves to such pressure and scrutiny to get the position; and then will voluntarily relinquish it at the end of their term. It gives one a greater appreciation extraordinary system of government that we live with.

Andre Cushing is a REALTOR with ERA Dawson Bradford in Bangor

Republican National Convention - Day 3

Andre Cushing reports: Hello again from Minneapolis/St Paul! Today was a full schedule of events starting with our Maine delegation breakfast briefing.

I visited Civicfest - which is a vibrant civic festival celebrating Minnesota and American history, democracy, and the U.S. Presidency. The event, produced by the Minneapolis Saint Paul 2008 Host Committee, features more than 35 exhibits including: historic memorabilia and artifacts, a scale model of the White House, a re-created Convention floor, a stage featuring live performances, an actual President’s official limousine, a full-scale replica of the White House Oval Office, multimedia and interactive exhibits featuring significant historical objects, an interactive kiosk that explores the lives and administrations of the twelve Presidents, and a 60,000 square-foot Marketplace.

This venue definitely will call for another day to explore it. I'm a real history buff and love looking at the displays and listening to the recordings of presidential speeches. There also were some great exhibits about Minnesota, history of businesses and noted figures. For example General Mills (who we all know for cereals) also was into aerospace and developed the ALVIN, the first deep diving submarine. Also the pacemaker, Post-it notes and Rollerblades were developed in Minnesota!

Today also is a full schedule of receptions. First at the invitation of Governor McKernan we attended “Republicans Supporting Higher Education," held at the Art Institute International Minnesota. The hurricane was still on our minds so I took some time to help with preparing comfort packs for delivery to the Gulf region. It was amazing to enter this big hall and see so many fellow delegates joining local volunteers at hundreds of tables assembling and pack these bags.

Then onto meet with my fellow REALTORS at the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) Reception where I met members of the NAR board and fellow delegates who are REALTORS. NAR President-Elect Charles McMillan welcomed us and shared that approximately 200 attendees to the convention are REALTORS which proved that we take public service very seriously and are willing to get involved. He also mentioned that several members of Congress have been or are REALTORS. Here's the link to the NAR site with information on both conventions, including interviews with attendees.

I attended a reception hosted by AT&T for the Maine & Vermont delegations where I met Vermont Governor Jim Douglas. Then time to go to the Xcel Center for the evening events. We heard from many speakers including former Maryland Lt.Gov. Michael Steele, who now chairs GOPAC. A special note: my daughter Grace (a senior at Simmons College) took a year sabbatical to work on his U.S. Senate race in 2006 and when she told his staff she was coming to the Convention he wanted her to work with him this week! She was able to help out and is really enjoying the convention (from a different perspective) travelling to media appearances and helping with his other speaking engagements.

The evening also saw NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Govs. Mitt Romney & Mike Huckabee and former Senator Fred Thompson take the stage. Finally the featured event - Gov. Sarah Palin addressed the convention and what a powerful speech she offered!! It was a great coming out for this interesting and energetic VP candidate. From what I have read her speech had the largest television viewership of its kind in history.

This was also the night that nominations are made by the different state delegations. Rep. Josh Tardy (Newport) is the Maine delegation chair and got to make the nomination speech for us. We all cheered when Maine came up! Here's a picture of us on the big screen!

Andre Cushing is a REALTOR with ERA Dawson Bradford in Bangor

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day 2 Report - Republican National Convention

A Maine REALTOR's Report from Day 2 at the Republican National Convention:

Andre Cushing reports: Greetings again from Minneapolis. We opened the second day with a more traditional schedule. Now that the imminent danger from the hurricane has passed the focus transitioned to getting to know our candidate's background. We started with a breakfast meeting where we heard from several people who know John McCain: Carly Fiorina (former CEO of Hewlett Packard), Andy McCain, Dorcas Hardy (former commissioner for the Social Security Administration) and two military veterans, Retired Major General Ed Mechenbier (a fellow POW) and Captain Thomas Hudner spoke of his remarkable service.

Later in the day I attended a luncheon reception for legislators and candidates (I am running for a seat in the Maine House of Representatives to represent Hampden, Dixmont & Newburgh). I then did an interview with a blogger and a reporter for the Bangor Daily News on my campaign and my experience as a Mainer at the convention. After which it was time to head to the Xcel Center for the evening program.

The Tuesday schedule follows the theme proposed by Senator McCain of “Country First” and highlights the word “Service” in its offering of speakers, which included President George W. Bush (via satellite), First Lady Laura Bush, and others.

The most moving presentations to me were a special appearance by a gentleman Wes Gullett and his daughter, Mickey. They told the story of how Cindy McCain, while travelling in Bangladesh, stopped at Mother Theresa’s orphanage and was moved to adopt two babies with severe medical conditions and return them to the U.S. She and John adopted Bridget and their friends, the Gulletts, adopted Mickey. It offered a glimpse at the personal side of the McCains that we don’t always see in politics.

The politics heated up when featured speaker Sen. Fred Thompson took the stage and offered an energetic comparison of Senator McCain and Senator Obama. He brought the crowd to its feet repeatedly with his comments. Then Senator Joe Lieberman offered his endorsement and issued a call to Democrats and Independent voters to join him in supporting the McCain-Palin team. Another special moment came when Former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush entered the hall. The entire convention paused as they were led to their seats to a warm ovation from those in attendance.

I must say this was a day was great experience even for someone like myself who has attended previous conventions.

Andre Cushing is a REALTOR with ERA Dawson Bradford in Bangor; pictured with Republican strategist Karl Rove

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Maine REALTOR Report from Republican Convention

MAR asked two Maine REALTORS attending the major political party conventions to report on their activities there. Both agreed. [Note: NAR and MAR do not take positions on presidential races, but housing and other real estate related issues are part of major party discussions.]

Here's the Day One report from the Republican Convention:

Greetings from the 39th quadrennial Republican Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My name is Andre Cushing and I am a REALTOR with ERA Dawson Bradford in Bangor, Maine. This is my third time attending a national convention (in 1980 I was a guest at the Detroit convention, 2004 I was a delegate in New York City, and this year I'm an alternate) and it is exciting to be at such a historic event.

This year's convention has been overshadowed by concern for events in the Gulf region as it has pummeled by Hurricane Gustav. Activities were shortened Monday at the request of Senator McCain to show respect for those who were facing adversity from the storm. The McCain campaign chartered a DC9 to ferry any delegates who wished to be back home to their states in the Gulf region to attend to their families and personal needs. A special response program has been set up at the Minneapolis Convention Center to prepare comfort packages which will be distributed to those displaced by the hurricane.

Minneapolis and St. Paul (where the Xcel Center is located) have done a great job in preparing to welcome the thousands of delegates and supporting casts for the convention. These are beautiful cities and the friendly attitude of all who we meet and deal with from shuttle drivers, hotel employees and service personnel to those related to the convention itself have been really great. They are wonderful ambassadors for their communities.

It is an exciting atmosphere and a unique dynamic where so many people from different walks of life, different ages and places come together to select our nominee for President and Vice President and conduct the other business necessary as a political entity.

Monday the convention opened with some basic housekeeping required in order to legally hold a convention and place the nominees names on the ballots in all fifty states and the U.S. territories. We had very few speeches out of respect for the focus on the hurricane's impact. The headline was a special appearance by First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain who both took the stage to welcome the attendees and announce a special effort to raise funds for the five states that may most be impacted by the hurricane. I include the websites here (at this link) in the event any of you may wish to make a contribution to those efforts.

Stay tuned for more information as the convention continues through Thursday.