GOP Convention Reenergizes California Republicans

California Republicans say they are reenergized now that their party's convention in St. Paul, Minnesota is over. Arizona Senator John McCain accepted the Republican presidential nomination in a speech on Thursday night. KPCC's Frank Stoltze has been covering the convention. He talked with Morning Edition host Steve Julian about the reaction to McCain's speech

Frank Stoltze: Steve, Republicans began the week uncertain how much of a convention they'd even have because of Hurricane Gustav, and worried about their chances against Barack Obama. Last night, they ended more confident of their chances, and more confident of John McCain following his speech. Here's California delegate Mike Miletic.

Mike Miletic: I thought the speech captured everything that I love about John McCain. He was humble, he talked about his service and sacrifice for the country, and he talked specifically what he was going to do, and how he's going to pull us together. And I find him incredibly inspiring, and I was really touched by the way he told the story of his life.

Stoltze: California Republicans even feeling McCain will be competitive in the Golden State, even though they haven't won the state in 20 years. Republicans note McCain's already been to the state a lot more than President Bush during his presidential campaigns.

Steve Julian: Frank, is Sarah Palin still the talk of the town, talk of the party?

Stoltze: Very much so, Steve. The superlatives seem to be getting bigger. Brandon Powers is a 26-year-old Republican from Laguna Nigel.

Brandon Powers: She's what's new, and she's what's hot. And she's the new rock star for the party. She lives thousands of miles away from the main 48. Most people didn't know who she is, and now people are saying, "Hey, where's she been all this time?"

Stoltze: Julia and George Argyros of Newport Beach are big contributors to the McCain campaign, and they love the addition of Sarah Palin.

Julia Argyros: She's, she's hot. I'm a woman, and I really, I'm a really good sense of other women. And she, she is just one hot lady.
George Argyros: She was very good, very good. But I think this is kind of a really, a formidable team.

Stoltze: By the way, Steve, Palin is scheduled to stop in Orange County for a fundraiser next week.

Julian: Is it fair to say, Frank, that she is the one who's fired up the rank and file?

Stoltze: Yes, but there remain some doubts. When you really start to ask people, they begin to wonder whether the 44-year-old Alaska governor is ready for the office. Mark Pruner is from Yolo County.

Mark Pruner: I think she's not ready to be president today. That's why she's vice president. But she is ready to be the vice president.
Stoltze: But isn't the vice president supposed to be immediately ready to be the president? In case something happens to the president?
Pruner: I don't think, at least, the voters I've talked to, never assume that the president's gonna die on day one. Could it happen? Yes. Has it ever happened? One time.

Julian: Well, that was William Harrison back in 1841, who died shortly after taking office.

Stoltze: I'm impressed by your historical knowledge, Steve.

Julian: (laughs) Comes with help. Frank, I understand that there were more protests and arrests last night. What happened?

Stoltze: They've yet to release the arrest numbers, but the incident occurred when a group without a march permit tried to walk from the State Capitol to the Xcel Center, where the convention was held.

Speaker: We must, and we will bring our voices to the Xcel Center tonight in massive protests. (cheering) The vast majority of Americans oppose the war, which proves how out of touch McCain is with the American people.

Stoltze: Police stopped them from getting to the Xcel Center. There remain concerns at the end of the week, Steve, about how police handled the protests this week. Some say they were heavy handed. Amazingly, one protester did get inside the convention and heckled John McCain. His supporters were able to drown the heckler out with shouts of "U-S-A!" But now it's all eyes on the next two months for a big and tough campaign with Barack Obama.

Julian: KPCC's Frank Stoltze reporting all week from Minnesota. Come home to where you have to work only 12 hour days.

Stoltze: (laughs) Looking forward to it, Steve. Thanks.