I have to add two more names Arnold, and Laura, to my previous list of John and Rudy as amazing keynote speakers. Arnold is, of course, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Laura is First Lady Laura Bush.
It was a real family affair for the Bush family prior to the First Lady's introduction. Twin daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush introduced their mother, after having some fun with their grandparents, who were in the audience. They also revealed their parents affectionately call each other "Bushie" at home.
President Bush appeared via the big screen from a campaign stop in Pennsylvania to add his comments to the introduction of his wife. Both children and husband paid tribute to this remarkable woman. The two words I would use to describe her are "gracious" and "class."
Gov. Arnold used humor and his history of immigrating to the country of his dreams to highlight his address. In the local press prior to his speech, there was some speculation as to just what he might say and how strongly he supported the president. He left no doubt after his first national political speech since becoming governor. As he concluded, he led the chant "four more years" as the standing, cheering, crowd joined in.
One of the headlines in the Washington Post captured it well: "Gov. Arnold Flexes Star Power With Heavy-duty Bush Boost.
"Everything I have - my career, my success, my family - I owe to America," Schwarzenegger said. Often referring to his movie-star past, he drew cheers and laughter when he referred to "one of my movies called 'True Lies.' It's what the Democrats should have called their convention." From an Austrian immigrant who could speak no English to governor of California, his American dream has been fulfilled.
Prior to the evening meetings in the convention center, I had a busy schedule. The National Association of Counties along with The National League of Cities and The United States Conference of Mayors co-hosted a reception honoring Republican Local Elected Officials. It was at the famous Copacabana. We had several hundred in attendance. As the NACo president-elect I had the honor welcoming the attendees, as did the presidents of the other organizations. When visiting with the mayor of Washington, D.C., Tony Williams, he asked all sorts of questions on how livestock are raised when he found out I was from the country. I was able to tell him lots of information that any farm boy would know.
I attended two other receptions, one located on Pier 60 in the Hudson side of Manhattan, the other at the Rockefeller Center. The caterers and music groups in New York must be doing great business, for each reception seems to have a band and good food. Nextel and The Home Builders were the sponsors of the receptions. I was visiting with one of the Nextel officials and discovered he was raised in Prineville and his father was from Hermiston. Small world.
Speaking of a small world, I was standing in the aisle waiting to exit the Garden when Sharon Smith, wife of U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, walked by. We had a nice but short visit. We may be the only two from Pendleton at the convention, other than Gordon, and we ran into each other.
Today my travels took me over a large part of the city, and I have yet to see any demonstrators. If they are here, I have not come in contact with them. It was a beautiful day in the Big Apple, not too hot or muggy.
Umatilla County commissioner Bill Hansell lives in Athena. He is attending the National Republican Convention as president-elect of the National Association of Counties.