I was a delegate to the Lexington County Republican convention on Saturday.
Here are some random thoughts.
First, hats off to Romney and his people. They won the straw poll going away. As reported on SC Hotline, Romney got 67 votes, his closest challengers were McCain at 29 and Rudy at 26. Non candidate Fred Thompson got 9 votes. The Romney folks continue to do their work at the grassroots in South Carolina very well.
Second, the best speech of the day was from Senator Lindsey Graham. He articulated the necessity of victory in Iraq in a way that I wish the President could. When I told the Senator such, he replied, with class, that the President had to be more careful in how he put things. Yet, still, if the President could articulate the argument as well as Senator Graham, I believe the country would feel better about the Iraq situation.
Third, Senator DeMint was also present and did fairly well in his remarks.
Fourth, Governor Mark Sanford gave a short but blunt speech about overspending in Columbia. I have to give the Governor credit for coming to Lexington, where he lost the GOP primary vote last year, and where State Senator Jake Knotts is boss, and giving a blunt assessment of the legislature's spending practices. I also must say, the Governor had no entourage and was very nice when I talked with him while he was sitting behind me. The Governor was sitting and talking with Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom, who was a delegate in a precinct seated behind mine. Like him or not folks, the Governor had the courage to come to the "belly of the beast" so speak and speak his mind and the Governor is perhaps one of the most approachable politicians of his caliber I have been around in recent years.
Other notable politicians present were Attorney General Henry McMaster, who spoke for the McCain campaign, but his speech seemed more like his own stock stump speech. Treasurer Thomas Ravenel was also present, sporting a Rudy lapel sticker. Congressman Joe Wilson was also there, basking in the glow of his hometown crowd. Mary McAbee, who is running for the President of the SC Federation Republican Women, worked the crowd. The only Presidential candidate who showed up in person was some guy from Alabama I have never heard of. (And, that is something, when a political junkie like me has never heard of you. I believe his name was Cort.)
Last but not least, a nod to Joshua Gross of SC Hotline, who was a delegate as well. Gross made the necessary motions to remove from the list of resolutions approved en bloc a resolution that was basically for open borders and against Israel. Kudos for Gross for putting aside the need to go to lunch to pay attention to what was going on and pointing it out to the convention.
All in all, not a bad convention. However, I believe turnout would have been higher if it had not been held on a sunny Saturday. Also, while I was glad to have chance to speak with the Governor, my congressman and my two senators, I was disappointed that no big time Presidential candidate showed up.
There was talk from the new county party leadership about having Lexington County presidential debate. I hope it happens.