Getting bounced from the Grand Old Party's parties

BY ANDY KROLL
Daily News Editor
Published September 2, 2008

MINNEAPOLIS (UWIRE) — I knew from the first furrowed brow, nervous glance and cautious examination of my press credentials that I wasn't getting in the door.

The party was an AT&T-hosted celebration of Michigan's Republican National Convention delegation at the swanky Karma nightclub in downtown Minneapolis's Warehouse District.

Never mind that I'd received two separate invitations to this shindig from Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard.

Any plans I had to see Republicans at the parties were now foiled.
The first sumo-sized bouncer heard my plea to get into the party, whispered something into a small lapel mic, and then another intimidating bouncer stepped outside to scrutinize my credentials and hear my case. He mumbled something into his walkie-talkie and soon after a woman — whom I presumed to be some sort of press secretary — emerged.

She curtly informed me that I could briefly interview Bishop and Bouchard for a few minutes outside of the club but that I would not, under any circumstances, be allowed inside, despite my insistence that I'd been invited — twice.

A short while later Bishop and Bouchard appeared, and as one of the sumo-sized bouncers stood over my shoulder I began asking the two delegates a few Michigan-related questions.

But apart from Bishop's comment that the RNC "was definitely back to normal" — despite the much-anticipated Gustav hitting land earlier the same day — the two men were noncommittal and their only displays of emotion amounted to longing looks back toward the chattering din and clinking of glasses inside the club.

As soon as it started, I thanked Bishop and Bouchard for their time and headed in the direction of some other nightclubs.

Yet after walking around downtown Minneapolis, and being denied entrance to similar RNC-themed parties, I have to agree with the bloggers over at PoliticalPartyTime.org, who reported: "Sen. John McCain had made a pitch that events be turned into hurricane fundraisers. However, these appeared to be the same parties that would have occurred, hurricane or not — opportunities for corporate sponsors to schmooze with members of Congress and convention goers."

With Gustav looming, McCain said on Sunday that Republicans should "take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats." This may have temporarily been the case. The Republicans's partying hats weren't far from hand.