RNC Northeast Conference, Day 1

Breaking my rule of thumb never to enter into Newport after working hours, I’ve arrived at the Marriott to attend the opening events of the Republican National Committee’s Northeast Conference. Inasmuch as I almost drove an eight-foot-high van into a 6’3″ parking garage, I’d like to take the opportunity to renew my economic development advice for the city of Newport: Free centralized parking, at the end of a clear path from all entrances to the city and cheap trolley service in all directions. With the long traffic lights, the confused tourists, and groups of people understandably choosing to walk, it’s very frustrating to have to rethink parking plans on the fly.
But now that I’m sitting, with a healthy Internet connection on my wireless card (the hotel charges $12 bucks per day for wireless access), I can say that it’s very nice to see people I’ve never seen before at a Republican event. If only we didn’t have to fly them in…
5:17 p.m.
Massachusetts GOP National Committeewoman Jody Dow opened with some general comments about the RNC. Gio Cicione (you know Gio, the RIGOP chairman) is giving welcoming remarks and some orientation — explaining the differently colored drink tickets.
“The pendulum swings, and right now, it’s swinging in our direction.”
5:23 p.m.
Ms. Dow just explained that large numbers of small donations are coming in to the RNC ($41 average), proving that people are worried and that the GOP is the big tent, not the party of the rich.
Up next is Governor Jim Douglas of Vermont. Having spent quite a bit of time in Vermont, as the son of a Green Mountain State mother, I’m qualified to opine that Mr. Douglas looks very much of Vermonter.
5:29 p.m.
Governor Douglas is suggesting that one trend they’ve seen begin in Vermont may be the conversion of incumbent Democrats to the Republican Party. “Republicans can win in New England.” Of course, that’s the beginning of the conversation of what sorts of Republicans we should run.
5:32 p.m.
Governor Carcieri just arrived. I wonder if he’s got any complaints about parking in Newport.
5:34 p.m.
Governor Douglas is laying out the philosophical differences between the parties on healthcare: e.g., controlling costs versus mandating coverage.
5:40 p.m.
Wow. Speaking about the graying of the Northeast, Gov. Douglas just mentioned that Vermont has 13% fewer school children than it did a decade ago. The moral is that our states’ economies have to become more inviting to young families.
Well, on to the opening cocktail party/dinner. I’m never sure where to strike the balance between blogger, activist, and affable schmoe, so I’ll bring my blogging equipment (which I bring just about everywhere, anyway), but my inclination whether to pretend to be a journalist is to be determined.

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