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 special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Recruitment Genius: Network Support Engineer - Hosted Telecommunications

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for a Ne...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor / Partner - Cheltenham

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: A very rare high level opportunity with a fir...

Recruitment Genius: IT Manager

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This distributor of electronics...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client has a number of different bus...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower