GOP Convention 2010–North Carolina

I recently had the honor and privilege of speaking at the North Carolina GOP 2010 State Convention.

For those who have never been to North Carolina, spend a few days there. Drive up and down the Carolina coast. It is the most beautiful greenery in the nation.

The NCGOP 2010 Convention took place in Winston-Salem, an hour away form the Greensboro airport.

While I had been blogging for some time and spoken in many places, I was not well known in North Carolina. Yet as has been the case throughout this great country, the state opened up for me because one kind person decided to take a chance on me.

I began emailing with Bob Pruett in the wild world of the blogosphere. He was easygoing and friendly, yet very serious about conservatism and electing Republicans to office. In 2009 I sent him an email saying that I was coming to North Carolina. I had speaking engagements lined up in Virginia, Maryland, and DC, and wanted to develop a presence in his state.

Bob took time out of his busy schedule to email other people about a complete stranger. I ended up getting a speaking gig at the Duplin County GOP Barbecue. I met Judy and Adrain Arnett, who were beyond kind to me. Also, Carolina Barbecue is d@ng tasty.

The highlight of that speaking event was meeting Stevie Rae Rivenbark, the 2009 Miss Wilmington pageant winner and finalist in the Miss North Carolina pageant. Somebody asked if I would buy her dinner. my response was that I was willing to buy her a third world nation.

The Arnetts reported back to Bob Pruett that they enjoyed my performance. Yet my arrival at the NCGOP Convention was not complete until I met him. I decided to purchase a booth at the convention as a vendor. He saw my booth, came up to me, and gave me a big bear hug. This is why I attend these events. I make friends I will have for life.

Yet I also need to make a living, and most people will not buy my book until they have heard me speak. The problem is that the NCGOP already had a fantastic set of speakers lined up. Highly regarded NCGOP Chairman Tom Fetzer had his lineup in place. The main dinner event featured the inspirational speaker Herman Cain.

Since speaking at the convention itself was not looking promising, I managed to arrange a speech the night before the convention to a chapter of the Republican Women’s Federated. Bonnie Tamrack runs the Catawba County group. They met the same night and place as the men’s GOP group. I addressed both groups together and had a great time.

The convention itself was expected to be uneventful for me from a speaking standpoint.

Yet Bob Pruett found time for me. A breakfast event had Congressman Howard Coble as the main speaker. While many Americans favor term limits for members of congress, the people at that breakfast were more than happy to keep Mr. Coble for as long as he wanted to serve. His conservatism was matched only by his pleasantness.

Bob told me the night before the breakfast that he may have a few minutes for me, but did not make any promises. I genuinely appreciated his honesty. I am not a morning person, but I was there slightly early. To my surprise, Bob decided to mention me in his opening remarks. He wanted to make sure that even if there was not time for me to speak, at least people would know who I was.

Due to what seemed like luck but was more likely an opportunity engineered by Bob, I was able to speak for 5 minutes. This may not seem like much, but it is more than enough time to make an impression. Think of it as the elevator conversation. I made the most of my chance with some fun remarks, all the while keeping in mind that Congressman Coble was right next to me.

“I am going to start today with a couple of sports updates. North Carolina is very different from California. North Carolina brought the world the great Dale Earnhardt, who left us way too soon in a tragic car wreck. California unfortunately brought the world Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi, who are themselves a couple of tragic car wrecks.”

“The Carolina Panthers look good on offense but face severe trouble on defense with the loss of Julius Peppers. They need some beef on the defensive line. I am recommending that Coach Jon Fox add Janet Napolitano.”

“Actually, I am going to apologize for that last remark. I should never mention Janet Napolitano’s name in the same sentence as the word defense. She can’t defend anything.”

“I don’t mind a woman president, even an effeminate one. I just don’t want to talk about John Edwards right now.”

The room was pleased, and Congressman Coble stopped by my booth later that day. He even invited me to his office to do a blogger interview the next time I am in DC.

The Republican Women had their booth right near mine. They had heard of me speaking in Oklahoma City at the National Federation of Republican Women Winter Conference. They were also aware of my Catawba County speech. The ladies were having a party in the hospitality sweet at night. The current and former presidents, Dena Barnes and Valerie White, gave me the chance to speak at their party.

As that party was winding down, out of nowhere, Joe the Plumber walked in. Joe Wurzelbacher is a nice guy and a fun guy. Like me, he was a guy that got thrust into the spotlight out of nowhere. He is two years younger than me, but has many more responsibilities. Joe is also a loyal guy. He likes the Cincinnati Bengals. That is enough proof for me.

As for speaking to the ladies, these opportunities have opened up the state for me. I also had the wonderful fortune of meeting people that I had corresponded with through telephone and email. Republican Women including Marlynn Burns and Carla Harper embraced me as one of their own. One county chairman Dave Ruden greeted me warmly. Naturally Adrain Barnett was a great sight to see since he was the very first North Carolinian to have speak to his group way back when.

Conventions are more than just politics, and politics is more than just legislation. It is about people. Long after debates about platforms and credentials have concluded, the people that impacted me will be the real story.

When in a strange town, I try to do more than Republican politics. I try to meet the Jewish community. Winston-Salem has only one Synagogue, and a very liberal one at that. While the Rabbi’s sermon was typical hard leftist drivel, the people were friendly. Besides, there were plenty of Republicans everywhere else but this temple.

I also managed to find out that the party scene in Winston-Salem, normally tame, was even less lively with Wake Forest being out for the Summer. I made my way to Downtown Charlotte, where the party scene was very lively.

One point of confusion for me was that when I tried to get directions, everybody kept telling me to “go to Billy Graham.” I kept thinking that maybe the liberals were right, and that the Christians were trying to convert to Christianity from my Jewish faith. I mean what the heck does the Reverend Billy Graham have to do with driving on the highway?

Apparently everything. Billy Graham was the name of the highway. I wonder if the Reverend knows that he was named after a highway. Either way, not one Christian in North Carolina tried to proseltyze to me even though they all tried to steer me in the right direction.

Before leaving the state, I paid homage by leaving the highway at exit 60, named after Dale Earnhardt. They have a Bojangles there, with food fit for an Intimidator.

I will be coming back to North Carolina many times. With people like Bob Pruett running things, the GOP will be just fine there for some time to come.

I look forward to the next North Carolina GOP Convention.


One Response to “GOP Convention 2010–North Carolina”

  1. North Carolina is a nice, safe spot for the GOP right now. The establishment guy is a shoe-in. Good place for pep talks. It’s neighbor to the south, though, has some “issues.” I’d get down there if I were you.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.