From eMeg’s historic press conference and Dudley Do Right’s abject apology to Hurricane Carly’s Oprah star turn and Stevie Wonder’s imitation of Attila the Hun, the Republican state convention was 48 hours of pure existential ennui punctuated by a few peak experiences. Here are the weekend highlights and low lights.
eMeg channels Leona – Meg Whitman drew a batch of favorable coverage for finally meeting with reporters, but some of her ditzier comments got lost in the scrum.
For starters, LAT beat man Michael Finnegan asked a tough question about her investments in companies “that profit from the economic hardships that people are undergoing in California.” Her answer was stunningly tone deaf, as she passed on the plight of working people in favor of discussing her investment planning principles:
We obviously have a broad portfolio of investments…you know, everything from normal stocks and bonds to distressed funds…I don’t think it makes a difference in terms of hurting individual people – it’s a smart investment strategy that we employ both or our personal funds as well as for our foundations.
The Commish channels Jerry Brown – Steve Poizner spent the weekend defending himself against press reports and Whitman charges that he’s a late-to-the-party conservative whose record is papered with examples of moderate and liberal stands on which he’s flip-flopped. At one he offered this Jerry Brown-like evolutionary explanation (HT to AP’s Juliet Williams):
Some of my positions have solidified or crystallized, but I was a conservative back then, and I’m a passionate conservative now.
No word yet what “passionate conservatives” evolve into – “knuckle draggers,” perhaps?
Hurricane Carly does Lady Gaga – Carly Fiorina emerged as the star of the show, injecting a much-needed blast of energy into the proceedings Saturday with her Oprah-miked, lady-in-red, slam-speech, bringing delegates to their feet and walking the talk about why she’d be a tough opponent for Barbara Boxer. Working in the round, she spoke without notes except for a single sheet of paper set atop a stool in her stand-up set-up, and in the process managed to hit a few sour notes.
One came about the 12th time she begged for approval: “Yes, you can applaud,” she said repeatedly, after one of her applause lines had hit the wall. She also offered up the single clunkiest line of the the weekend when she inexplicably compared her chemo-cut to Boxer’s political longevity:
“The biggest difference between Barbara Boxer’s Senate career and my hair is that my hair will grow longer.”
No word on what the lesser differences between Boxer’s career and Carly’s hair might be.
Campbell releases his inner Br’er Rabbit – The nominal front-runner in the Senate race has had a miserable couple of weeks, as he’s gotten more and more ensnared with the political tar baby of his past support for jihadist professor Sami Al-Arian. It was just two weeks that Campbell snapped with righteous indignation at the “silent slander” being waged against him by Camp Carly on the issue.
Since then Fiorina manager Julie Soderlund has kept the pressure on, pounding Campbell day after day with fact after fact, forcing him to revise his story about his ties to Al-Arian repeatedly and finally to flat-out apologize at a press conference as the convention got underway on Friday afternoon.
Chuck DeVore briefs the war room – At his Saturday press conference, the Orange County assemblyman and wannabe Senator’s military bearing, crisp presentation and invocation of Sun Tzu underscored his status as an Army Reserve Lt. Colonel; his sharp command of facts about the political terrain of 2010 and the organizational aspect of the GOP Senate race made his case for the chances of a long-shot upset bid for the nomination plausible, if not persuasive.
He admitted he won’t have enough money to do a serious TV buy, but argued that as the Fiorina-Campbell race gets nastier and more personal every day, it’s likely heading for a murder-suicide denounement: “What happens when the rubble clears” he asked Calbuzz rhetorically, then pointed a big thumb to his own chest, with a smile.
Madness in Marketing – Fiorina media consultant Fred Davis deservedly got widespread attention for “Hot Air: The Movie,” his latest break-through-the-clutter web ad, but Team Carly also produced the coolest souvenir of the weekend – a postcard size hologram in which Campbell morphs into the Demon Sheep then turns back into Dudley. The late night guerrilla teams that slipped it under the doors of reporters added a whiff of mystery to the enterprising hit piece.
Best performance by a non-combatant in a supporting role – Aaron McLear, Gov. Schwarzmuscle’s spokesflack, aimed a strong counterpunch to eMeg’s pie hole, after Whitman had opined to reporters that all in all, Arnold’s administration had been pretty lame.
While it’s nice to see Ms. Whitman finally talking to reporters, it would be even better if her comments were based in reality.
Poizner does schtick – Amid a logorrheic torrent of talking points at his press conference, Poizner’s best line was a quick, unplanned quip that came in response to a reporter informing him that Whitman had said she’d voted for him when he ran for the Assembly in 2004. “I can predict that Meg Whitman is going to vote for me again in November 2010,” he said without missing a beat.
There’s one liberal Republican in this race, and it’s not me.
How Republicans are like Crusaders – The parade of party members who delivered invocations before every big event uniformly took as their point of prayerful departure the assumption that God is clearly playing for the GOP squad, as this example from Saturday’s lunch illustrates:
Lord…we humbly ask You to expand the Republican territory.
And maybe put a little oil underneath while you’re at it, Sir.
Mitt Romney morphs into Andrew Dice Clay – Romney’s hard-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside intro of Meg just before her limelight gig was bad enough, but he preceded it with a dumb anecdote set at the 2008 Summer Olympics, where, he said with a leer, he’d paid close attention to his favorite sport – “women’s beach volleyball.” Heh, heh.
Why the media gets a bad rap – The worst press question of the weekend came from the middle of the scrum around eMeg on Friday, when some unidentified knucklehead asked the candidate, who’s a long way from even winning her party’s nomination this clunker:
Would you commit to serving a full four year term if you’re elected governor? There’s been talk about you as a national political figure.
Even Her Megness had a big laugh at that one.