Heard on the Hill: Stars Out at GOP Confab, but Slightly Dimmer

Posted August 29, 2008 at 2:30pm

Plenty of important, powerful political organizations have descended on the Twin Cities for the Republican National Convention this week, but if last week’s Democratic National Convention is any indication, one star-studded group will outshine them all.

[IMGCAP(1)]The nonprofit political advocacy group the Creative Coalition held nearly as many events in Denver as there were delegation breakfasts.

Coalition members such as Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee and Anne Hathaway tackled an eclectic list of issues, from honoring African-American leaders to hosting receptions on housing and health care. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, the coalition will try to match that schedule, repeating many of the same events with, er, lesser-known stars such as Tim Daly, Kerry Washington and Richard Schiff.

The group is nonpartisan, although spokesman Morris Reid said the work of all those top-shelf celebs in Denver “reflected the tone and mood of the country.” And even if the Twin Cities’ celebrity contingent is a little lower-wattage than in Denver, Reid said the artists are on the same mission: getting schooled on politics while advocating for increased funding for the arts.

“They came here to be citizens first,” he said. “They didn’t come here to get a check … These people are real Americans, and they are touched by the issues and problems that all Americans have.”

And while Hollywood has a reputation for having liberal tendencies, Reid said the famous folks won’t try to change anything up in the Twin Cities.

“They’re not trying to talk at the Republicans; they’re trying to listen,” he said. “The process is the same.”

Adieu, Denver. Oh, Denver, we hardly knew ye. The Democratic convention is over, but HOH brings you a wrap-up of the circus-like week:

Most Sought-After Ticket: The Google/Vanity Fair party. Even A-listers were grumbling about the tight guest list for the swanky and exclusive soiree, held Thursday night at the Exdo Event Center.

Runner-Up: Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High. Sure, the stadium seats more than 75,000 people, but most of those seats were reserved for “real people,” leaving groups scrambling to provide passes for their VIPs who were clamoring to see the week’s main event.

Worst “Do-You-Know-Who-I-Am?” Moment: When Monica Conyers, wife of House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), didn’t like the way the staff at the Magnolia Hotel handled her complaints about the Conyers’ accommodations, things didn’t go well. Police wound up responding to an “incident” at the hotel on Tuesday stemming from the dispute, sources say.

Most Ubiquitous Member: Rep. Loretta Sanchez seemed to be everywhere this week. Our favorite moments with the California Democrat included a loopy interview in a video posted on TMZ.com and when she dissed Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) during a speech to a group of young women Monday, essentially calling Feinstein frumpy.

What We’ll Miss About Denver: The friendly people. We big-city folk from uptight Washington, D.C., just aren’t used to so much friendliness, from people offering lost-looking HOH directions on the street to folks making not-hitting-on-you small talk at bars.

Runner-Up: The weather. It might have gotten plenty warm in the Mile High City, but as so many people say, it’s not the heat that gets to you, it’s the humidity. We’ll fondly remember those crisp Denver mornings when we’re back in the sweltering swamp we call home.

What We Won’t Miss: Hot dogs. They were the meal of choice for harried reporters, staffers and even delegates at the Pepsi Center — half-smokes, regular dogs and dogs served on sticks — and everyone was eating them.

Grooming Notes. HOH previously has reported on the grooming choices of two of Thursday’s warm-up speakers for the big acceptance speech by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). And now we feel obligated to provide an update: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson appears to be sporting something of a “demi-mullet” hairdo, with slightly longer hair in the back (what’s known in mullet parlance as the “party” side) than the front (the “business” side), in addition to the beard that HOH reported he began to grow after dropping out of the Democratic presidential primary race in January. The guv’s new style looks something like the one Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty gave up recently, perhaps in a bid to look vice presidential in the hopes of being selected to run with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

And Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who also warmed up the crowd before Obama’s address, appeared to be sporting a serious case of five o’clock shadow, our on-the-scene informant tells us. Some of Kaine’s other facial hair — his wiggly eyebrows — have previously caused a sensation.

Lobbyists in Waiting … and Waiting. Updating one’s Facebook page from the conventions — changing the “status” line to denote one’s whereabouts — is the new black. Take these lobbyists, who let their Facebook friends know all about that interminable wait in the blocks-long lines to hear the Thursday night speech by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at Invesco Field: Lobbyist Steve Elmendorf of Elmendorf Strategies was “beginning hour two in the longest line ever and is surprised that there is nobody organizing the line.” Todd Webster of Webster Strategies “is at Invesco waiting for history to be made.”

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