I haven't had much time to put all my thoughts together, but here's a quick write-up about the Defending the Dream Summit on Saturday. I hope to have pictures posted soon. We had front row seats which gave us a great view of all the candidates that attended.
John McCain: Watch this You Tube and you'll learn all you need to know about how most people at this rally felt about him. I sat next to a jovial older fellow who booed so loud he attracted McCain's attention, giving me a real up-close view of McCain. Thankfully, the fellow was 6 feet 5 and about 300 lbs. and I looked incredibly insignifcant at that point. The two of them engaged in a lively dialog during the Q&A that ended in McCain's people getting his number so that they could talk while he went to his next campaign stop. Overall, my girls said McCain came across as stiff and disconnected. I agree. McCain must have thought so too, he didn't even come to the rope to shake hands. In Detroit, that's probably a safe thing to do.
Mitt Romney: Romney is a "favorite son" of many in Michigan because his dad was Governor and he has strong ties to the auto industry. His speech was well delivered and well received. I sat in the first row with my daughters and within inches of Romney's wife, Ann. I liked him, but not enough to vote for him. He's smart and polished. He comes across very Presidential and much better in person than on television. My good friends and publishers of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine were with us and they thought the same thing. Romney was clearly liked by many in the audience and he stayed after to shake hands with many supporters. I'm not a supporter but I did shake his hand. (After all, he could still be the next President even if I didn't help get him there!)
Duncan Hunter: Hunter also gave a great speech. But the it was cut short because McCain went so long. Although I liked much of what he said, the fact that the press (and most in the crowd) didn't stay around to hear it, tells me this isn't his year.
By the far the crowd favorite was a guy who isn't even on the ballot, ABC's John Stossel. He was engaging, funny, and spot on when it came to the role of government. I don't know where he stands on many of the issues, but if he ever decides to leave TV, he just might have a future in politics. The big guy next to me who booed McCain was absolutely gushing when Stossel spoke.
The Ron Paul people were there, but Ron Paul wasn't. Overall I didn't think they handled themselves or represented Ron Paul very well. I talked to a few of them and asked some questions, but they seemed to view anyone who would consider voting for anyone other than Paul as a traitor to the Constitution. I don't think that's what Ron Paul believes, but he does seem to attract a rather different sort of supporter at these rallies. That's too bad. Paul has great things to say and needs to be able to attract people who can effectively communicate his message.
Huckabee had a campaign bus there that looked like it was from the 1980's, but it worked and got his supporters to where they needed to be. Good stewardship even if he's not my candidate.
The media pass wasn't a great as I thought it would be, I was told it would get me into the "green room", but it didn't. I was only able to get into the media room which had a bunch of reporters around a few monitors or in front of their laptops. But it did save me the $60 cost of admission and a decent lunch, so I'm not complaining.
I did attend one break-out session on "Values Voters" that was informative especially when the head of the Michigan GOP Chairman talked about coming together even thought we disagree. I was unexpectedly able to address the group of about 150 or so people on the education issue. Yes, I talked about Huckabee's education record leading to quite a few cheers in the audience and a few nasty emails afterwards.
Did attending the Summit help me decide? Not really. I was thinking Thompson or Paul when I went in and came out still undecided between the two. But it did solidify my daughter's support for...Romney of all people! Yes, I raised an independent-minded, stubborn daughter! She's gone against her own parents and her good friends the Harris's! (Note to Brett and Alex: She actually did consider Huckabee!)
So who did I vote for in Michigan's primary? Fred Thompson. Not that I don't like Ron Paul but I had to choose somebody. They had an equal number of pluses and minuses. But Thompson won because that's who my husband was voting for. That old submission thing saves the day and keeps me from having to make up my own mind! Actually, we reasoned that Ron Paul has enough cash to be in this for the long haul and hopefully a decent showing in Michigan for Thompson might give him a little boost going into South Carolina.
Does this mean I'm going to start stumping for Thompson? Not necessarily. I had to make a choice today based on the facts I have up until now. But my support is far from solid and if Ron Paul decides to go third party, he still might get my vote in the general election unless the nominee is Fred Thompson. Then I'm back to undecided.