ST. PAUL, Minn.
The Convention, which took place in Minneapolis-St. Paul, provided Senator McCain with the opportunity to take leadership of the GOP while distancing himself from President Bush and introducing Governor Palin to the American public.
"So far in this election, it's felt as of the Democrats were ready to get back into the White House while the GOP was preparing to enter the wilderness," said Joshua S. Downer '09, "but Palin has completed the unification between McCain's brand and the GOP's brand."
"We have a reformist and a maverick who is also conservative as our next vice-president," Downer continued, "and the conservative wing has found its new leader. We love John McCain, but Palin has solidified her place as a leader of this party."
Although the conventional wisdom was that the Democratic National Convention would have a dramatic lead in viewership, Palin's selection to the ticket helped make the RNC the most-watched Convention in history, and that curiosity and excitement showed during Palin's speech Wednesday night.
"My most memorable moment at the RNC was watching Governor Palin's speech from the floor," said Caleb L. Weatherl '10, immediate past president of the Harvard Republican Club. "As Governor Palin began speaking, the excitement and energy in the room started to build among the crowd, and by the end of her speech, the atmosphere in the convention center was truly electric."
Downer agreed with Weatherl's sentiments, noting how the speech soothed his own worries about Palin's selection.
"We had doubts before her speech," Downer said. "There was nervousness, especially among those who believed that we had found our lady, but that the liberal media was going to pull the rug out from underneath her."
"But she tore Obama apart in her speech and has set this election on our terms."
Despite the resounding reviews to Palin's speech, the speech by the Republican presidential nominee was not exactly forgettable either, according to audience members.
"Watching Senator McCain speak was also a once in a lifetime experience," Weatherl said. "Everyone in the convention center was moved by his story of how being a POW changed his outlook on life, and made him truly fall in love with his country. When Senator McCain gave his charge at the end of the speech, all the convention attendees were on their feet cheering at the top of their lungs."
There were few complaints from Harvard affiliates about the convention, despite some griping about the choice of the Twin Cities as the location for the event. However, Downer did have one regret about Palin's speech.
"She could have mentioned guns and religion more," Downer said with a grin of his own, "but with that wonderful grin, she successfully contrasted Obama's vision and record with McCain's vision and record, and the GOP compares favorably on these matters."
But in the end, that didn't seem to matter for the Harvard senior.
"I've never seen hockey in my life," Downer said, "but thanks to this hockey mom, I will be buying my tickets for Beanpot for the first time."
Staff writer Prateek Kumar can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harvard Republicans Energized Following Convention
ST. PAUL, Minn.