Convention Diary: Well-heeled types start party early

BY LAST night the stampede was complete, all 50,000 guests expected at the convention were safely in town and the great Republican rodeo was under way.

Even the star of the week, Barbara Bush - oh, and incidentally, George, too - had made it. She takes the stage tomorrow night with the entire Bush clan, kids and grandkids, at her side. The President will only make his grand entrance at the Astrodome on Thursday, for his coronation as candidate for four more years.

Even before the dropping of the gavel yesterday morning to mark the start of official business, most of the delegates - 2,210 in all - were already well into the party mood, and not just politically speaking. In a whirlwind of polite Texas socialising, most had spent the weekend sucking on barbecued ribs and sipping margaritas - a Mexican cocktail that comes highly recommended - at the best city clubs or at the homes of the Houston rich, of which there are many.

These are well turned-out folk, by the way. No jeaned Democrats here. A view from the rafters of the assembled faithful last night would have revealed lots of blue-rinse hair-dos and knife-sharp side partings. Men, mostly in business suits, would certainly outnumber women, and blacks would hardly be in evidence.

As for their political views, the prize for conservatism must go to the 121-strong Texan delegation. Over three-quarters back a total ban on abortion and most deplore homosexuals and have little concern about Aids. Take Rita Palm of Fort Worth on abortion: 'It's a white issue because black families have their babies and use them as a means for an income', or Coleman Carter on Aids: 'I equate it with leprosy.'

Mr Carter, presumably, paid little attention to the Act-Up/Queer Nation march that snaked to the Astrodome yesterday to protest views such as his in the Republican mainstream. Homosexuals were not alone in raising their voices. Among a selection of groups demonstrating in the convention environs were the Lone Star Croation Club, the Zionist Organisation of America and, for frustrated greens, an organisation called Earth, Wind and Water.

The latest elephant sighting, incidentally - the official emblem of the Republican Party - was of a 6ft topiary specimen welcoming delegates at the entrance to the Astrodome. Houstonians, it seems, have a thing about topiaries. Roaming the streets and front lawns are a wide variety of leafy apparitions, including giraffes, Texas longhorns, flamingos, reindeers, monkeys, rabbits, pigs and armadillos.

Fire engines are a favourite fetish of the Republican Party. They appeared first in Ronald Reagan's sentimental Morning in America television advertisements in the 1984 campaign. Mr Bush's commercials, four years later, featured one as well, being lovingly wiped down by two men in some sunny prairie town. And, lo and behold, in Americana, the video film made for this convention, there is another red and shiny model, once again getting the chamois-leather treatment from two loving gents.

If the delegates have received a great welcome, journalists are feeling unloved. Most began work yesterday exhausted by the experience of finding their credentials at a different conference centre six miles away, and then spending three hours negotiating the wasteland of Houston's freeways and the battalions of police barricading the Astrodome. Hacks have been directed to no fewer than four hotels to pick up parking permits. So far, none has been successful in obtaining one. Looks like it's going to be Shanks's pony.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power