T-PAW ON NORQUIST: FLY MOVES
Former Minnesota Gov. and onetime presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is a fan of uberlobbyist Grover Norquist—and not just for the conservative icon’s crusade against taxes. While catching up with Norquist just off the convention floor, Pawlenty confided that Norquist has talents beyond political acumen.
“He’s got some rap moves that I don’t think people fully appreciate,” Pawlenty said. “He’s a big fan of 50 Cent and Lady Gaga.”
Actress Janine Turner of Northern Exposure is a well-known conservative—she campaigned for Sarah Palin and is a regular contributor to Republican campaigns. But this is her first Republican National Convention—and even though she took the stage on Tuesday night, she admitted to being as starstruck as a schoolgirl at a rock concert.
“I love it. Being asked to speak was such an honor. In the green room last night, there was Nikki Haley, and Bob McDonnell, and Scott Walker, and Ted Cruz, and John Kasich, and ... [Elaine] Chao. And we also saw Fred Barnes and Stephen Hayes. It’s such a thrill!” she said.
Turner is in Tampa with her daughter, 14-year-old Juliette, who has clearly inherited her mother’s conservative zeal. Juliette is a big Ron Paul fan, but, she adds, “I love Mitt Romney. I have room for both.” Juliette, who wrote a children’s book of essays about the Constitution, forthcoming from HarperCollins, has dozens of conservative fan-girl pins on her hot-pink backpack—from Romney 2012 to one reading, “I built my own business, Mr. President,” which she picked up at an Americans for Prosperity event. “They don’t really love these at my liberal school,” she said.
VOIGHT ON JFK, BRANGELINA
Actor Jon Voight has spent the past two days roaming the Tampa Bay Times Forum and holding forth on his political views to any reporter with a microphone. He especially loves to expound on his “upside down” theory of the Democratic Party.
“If you read John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address to anybody today, they’d say, ‘Who said that, Ronald Reagan?’ They’d guess some conservative—‘Romney?’ They’d never guess it came from the Left. None of the sentiments belongs to the Left any more. He said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ And now it’s upside down, because Obama is saying, ‘Ask what your country can do for you, your government will take care of you.’ He would like everyone dependent on the government. It’s upside down.”
Voight seems willing to expound on almost every topic, except the one people ask him about the most: the rumored impending nuptials of his daughter, Angelina Jolie, to longtime boyfriend Brad Pitt. “I don’t have any news about the wedding. I hear about it on Inside Edition, just like everyone else.”
WHICH ROMNEY’S THE CUTEST?
Ann Romney is suffering an embarrassment of riches at the convention. The morning after delivering a well-received speech, the wife of Mitt Romney was feted at a breakfast fundraiser on Wednesday morning featuring her entire family, including a gaggle of five daughters-in-law who each insisted she had married the cutest Romney boy.
The women told stories about the lessons they had learned from the Romney family matriarch, which seemed more the stuff of Leave It to Beaver than today: learning the ways of a good cook and a good wife. Andelyne Romney, wife of son Ben, called her mother-in-law a “modern feminist” for being so comfortable in her own skin and for her decision to stay home to raise five boys. Even Mitt seems aware that his star status is in jeopardy. “By the time I get to town, the delegates may have decided to nominate Ann instead. And wouldn’t that be interesting?” he mused in a video message played at the breakfast. He even took a jab at the convention’s media coverage. “Do you think that if Ann were the nominee, the press would write stories about how my job is to humanize Ann?” Romney asked. “I don’t think so.”
MICHIGAN’S FAVORITE SON?
Michigan Republicans are proud to have a claim on Mitt Romney, whose father was a beloved governor of the Great Lakes State. But they still have a complicated relationship with the candidate—who wanted to let two of the Big Three auto companies go bankrupt. At the delegation’s “Salute to Gerald Ford” lunch, delegate Theresa Mungioli, a project manager for GM, admitted, “I work for a bailout company. We needed to restructure.” But she added, “The fact that Governor Romney wanted us to go into controlled bankruptcy would have been good for the company.” Both GM and Chrysler went through bankruptcy in 2009.
Carl Berry, a retired police chief from Plymouth, said he has vivid memories of Romney’s father. “Everyone knew George Romney. He was fairly conservative, direct—had a lot of respect for him. If he told you he would do something, he’d do it.”
Mitt, Berry said, “His home state is Michigan. He moved to Massachusetts, but we gave him all his talents.”
THE BLING’S THE THING
There is a lot of bling floating around the Tampa Bay Times Forum—elephant ties, Uncle Sam hats. One young Republican cleverly converted a Yuengling lager six-pack box into a hat and decked it out with Romney/Ryan pins.
Arizona Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio fits right in. He looks like he always does, with a handgun tie clip. “It’s the only gun I carry,” he said. This is coming from the hard-core law-and-order man in a state where people can carry a concealed weapon almost anywhere. Sheriff Joe admits that he speaks (and acts) off the cuff at times, so it’s probably best to leave the actual weapons in others’ hands. “If I carried a real one, I might shoot the wrong person,” he said.
Perhaps the most potent personal bling is a button being sported by Michael Brewer, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s son. It depicts the infamous photo of his mother giving President Obama a tongue-lashing on an Arizona tarmac earlier this year.
Coral Davenport, Fawn Johnson, and Rebecca Kaplan contributed contributed to this article.
This article appears in the August 30, 2012, edition of NJ Convention Daily.