The GOPers Are Here! The GOPers Are Here!

To: Delegates and Alternates, 2008 Republican National Convention

Thank you for coming to our Twin Cities. We extend a warm Minnesota welcome, and in a special show of hospitality, bars in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington are allowed to stay open until 4:00 A.M.

There are more than 45,000 attendees, including 2,380 delegates from 50 states and six territories, and 15,000 journalists currently occupying more than 16,000 hotel rooms. The local Republican National Convention Host Committee had no trouble meeting its goal of 10,000 community volunteers (in fact, there is a waiting list). And as promised, the committee’s financial goals were met also. Your success is in large part due to the convention president and CEO, the remarkable Maria Cino.

Before you came here, the possibility of protests was discussed. With an unpopular war, summer vacations, and the proliferation of various protest groups (I even saw a notice from—shades of the ’60s—Students for a Democratic Society), there will be a robust expression of First Amendment rights. Minnesotans know how to express themselves in a way that honors our Constitution. In fact, the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union passed a resolution to establish a volunteer force of more than 1,000 attorneys to defend a protester’s right to be heard and the right to peaceably assemble.

The Ramsey County Court system has been set up to have court on a 24-hour-a-day basis. My prediction, as you read this letter, is that it’s all going remarkably well. This convention will not look like the 2004 Republican Convention in New York, nor the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

Let me also make some platform suggestions. It would be nice to see the Republican National Convention stand up for the First Amendment. Campaign finance restrictions, as you all know, are a complete and total joke. There are no limits to the money that can be contributed to a federal candidate with a little ingenuity and a little bit of smoke and mirrors.

Your candidate, the father of the McCain-Feingold law, has routinely solicited contributions 30 and 40 times the stated federal limit (and quite legally so). His Democratic opponent has done the same (and passed up federal funding). You know that campaign spending is an exercise in political speech, and that it should be accurately disclosed without silly, often ignored, artificial limits.

We are a country of immigrants, and perhaps you could recognize that fact by taking a sensible position on immigration. Two-thirds of doctoral candidates in science and engineering in U.S. universities are foreign-born. As soon as these highly skilled individuals get their PhDs, they are ordered out of the country. When the visa program for highly skilled individuals is open for application, the entire number of available spots is taken within one hour.

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