GOP convention notes

Snapshots from the Republican National Convention: 

"Welcome," "Welcome to Minnesota," "Welcome to Minneapolis" chanted the dozens of greeters at the Minneapolis Convention Center at the Republican National Convention’s Welcome Party.

There, out-of-towners learned about Minnesota nice. "I believe it is true," said Gail Russell from Louisville, Ky., after receiving directions and unsolicited restaurant advice from strangers.

Some Republicans, such as New Mexico delegate Barbara Damron, were simply happy to be among their political peers: "There are very few Republicans in Santa Fe. So I want to come out of the closet and say we’re Republicans!"

There were ample opportunities for cultural comparisons. What do Minnesota and Texas have in common, for instance? "All these people are friendly and that’s what we get in Texas too," said Anne Mazone, from Navasota, Texas.

Differences? The accent. "Y’all, we don’t know what y’all are saying," said fellow Texan Judy Smith.

Yah, sure.

— Sara Glassman, Minneapolis Star Tribune

A small cabal of Republican delegates from Utah are threatening to hold open the national roll call vote for John McCain while officials take a head count of the state’s support for various candidates — which could yield a few votes for Mitt Romney or Ron Paul.

Romney, who took more than 90 percent of the Republican presidential primary vote in Utah, pleaded with the state’s delegation early Monday to throw all their support behind McCain as the nominee.

"I know a couple of you in this room, most of them my relatives, who would like to vote for me when the delegates get counted," Romney said, joking about the relatives part. "Don’t do that."

Talking to reporters after the breakfast, Romney said "no thanks" to a 2012 run for the presidency. "I do not anticipate doing it again," he said, noting that he also wasn’t interested in a Cabinet spot in a McCain administration.

— Thomas Burr, The Salt Lake Tribune

The Twin Cities are staying up way past their normal bedtimes. Bars in St. Paul and Minneapolis have received special dispensation to stay open as late as 4 a.m., starting last Monday.

The first night in St. Paul was met with some trepidation by bar owners. Just before 2 a.m., the gay bar Camp had business but it wasn’t blockbuster. Owner Bill Collins was wondering if he had made a mistake getting the last-minute $500 license that granted permission for the longer hours.

But after 2 a.m., more customers trickled in.

Just steps from the Xcel Center, site of the Republican convention, the Irish pub Liffey was surrounded by blocks of tall, ominous metal barricades. Cops and soldiers paced on the other side. In the dark morning hours, it looked like someone dropped a bar inside a demilitarized zone, though it was fortified in anticipation of potentially violent protest.

Still, the Liffey’s rooftop terrace was packed at 3:30 a.m. as Monday morning crept closer to daylight. With the Holiday Inn booked up next door, you might’ve expected an RNC presence. But the crowd was clearly made up of local tipplers who were excited to be slamming beers at a time they’d usually be in bed.

— Tom Horgen, Star Tribune

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