ABC7 news team "Convention Mentions" blog

September 4, 2008 6:11:33 PM PDT
Members of the ABC7 news team share their RNC experiences from St. Paul, Minn. Wednesday, September 3, 8 p.m.

"Pig's Eye" Minnesota


(from ABC7 Chicago Executive Producer Douglas Whitmire)

So, I found out earlier this week that the Twin Cities are hardly right next to one another. . . At least the downtown areas.

Now I find out that St. Paul is actually Pig's Eye, Minnesota.

Yes, Pig's Eye. But the original name of the city has nothing to with swine.

Turns out the city was actually named for a French-Canadian whiskey trader, Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant. 'Ol Pig Eye led squatters to the original settlement here.

The name of this fair city didn't become St. Paul until a Catholic church was built here, not in honor of 'Ol Pig Eye, but of St. Paul of course.

Wednesday, September 3, 10:33 a.m.

"To my friends."


(from ABC7 Chicago Executive Producer Douglas Whitmire)

Friends are generally people we know. That we could call on the phone and not have a surprised voice on the other end asking who was calling. Someone you've known for years, since childhood perhaps. However, I've heard the phrase "my friends" so many times this week I've lost count. And I'm not just talking about John McCain speeches. Yes, we've all heard him use it while on the campaign trail. But Joe Lieberman used it on Tuesday. Rudy Giuliani used it last night. I think I even heard Mitt Romney use it last night. But political speeches aside, I've also been called a friend by complete strangers working the convention this week. The volunteers from the Twin Cities, who are working long hours in concession stands, security booths, and as ushers. More than a dozen times I've been asked "How is your day, friend?" "How's the night going, my friend?" "Anything you need help with my friend?" The people of Minnesota have been outstanding and nice despite the long hours. So this is a thanks to "my friends" in Twin Cities.

Wednesday, September 3, 8:55 a.m.

"And the word of the day is. . . "


(from ABC7 Chicago Executive Producer Douglas Whitmire)

There has been one word that has been used more in the last two weeks, perhaps, more than in the past two years combined. You know it. You've heard it. But what does vetting really mean? Where does it come from?

Webster's Dictionary states that the origin of the word actually comes from the word veterinarian.

How does a doctor fit into Presidential Politics?

The term stems from the process that animal doctors, or "vets," were required to give horses before races to make sure they were fit to run. Fit to run. Like for Vice President.

So vetting has morphed into a political term for the process a Presidential candidate uses to evaluate his or her running mate.

Tuesday, September 2, 3:28 p.m.

"Ice cold"


(from ABC7 Chicago Producer Jason Knowles)

I'm not talking about the people. Everyone is extremely friendly . The delegates, volunteers and media are all cordial. I'm talking about the convention center. Its been humid outside and many people are in summer gear. When they walk inside the cold air blasts out. It may not be very "green" but I am guessing they keep it frigid so it stays comfortable for when the place gets packed.

It's amusing to see all of the grown men shivering. Some reporters have even brought up a portable heater. Others have sweaters. There may be relief from the chill ahead. The outside temperature just dropped 20 degrees and it feels like fall now.

Tuesday, September 2, 8:21 p.m.

"The World's Arena"


(from ABC7 Chicago Executive Producer Douglas Whitmire)

I've only been out of this country four times. Once to Mexico. Once to Ireland. Twice to Canada. I am hardly the world traveler. However, a trip to the Republican National Convention is like a tour of every corner of the globe in one building. I've heard more languages here than in my entire life. Japaense, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Italian and I'm sure others I don't recognize. There are journalists from every part of the world here in St. Paul covering not just a Republican convention, but America's democratic process. No matter what your party affiliation, we must be proud that our system is important enough to be thought of as news regardless of country, regardless of language.

Tuesday, September 2, 3:28 p.m.

"Ice cold"


(from ABC7 Chicago Producer Jason Knowles)

I'm not talking about the people. Everyone is extremely friendly . The delegates, volunteers and media are all cordial. I'm talking about the convention center. Its been humid outside and many people are in summer gear. When they walk inside the cold air blasts out. It may not be very "green" but I am guessing they keep it frigid so it stays comfortable for when the place gets packed.

It's amusing to see all of the grown men shivering. Some reporters have even brought up a portable heater. Others have sweaters. There may be relief from the chill ahead. The outside temperature just dropped 20 degrees and it feels like fall now.

Tuesday, September 2, 11:32 a.m.

"Convention Time, Finally!"


(from ABC7 Chicago Executive Producer Douglas Whitmire)

After a delay in the politics of the GOP Presidential nomination, for the first time, things here in St. Paul finally feel like a convention.

I'm listening to two very fine performers rehearse their acts from the main stage in the convention hall, and as I look out at the giant American Flag projected on the video screen on the stage, I feel like things are finally starting to begin.

That feeling will be reality tonight when Laura Bush introduces the President via satellite, Conn. Senator Joe Lieberman and Former Tenn. Senator Fred Thompson address the delegation.

The pomp and circumstance quelled by Hurricane Gustav are about to begin.

Monday, September 1, 9:18 p.m.

"The Not-so-Twin Cities"


(from ABC7 Chicago Executive Producer Douglas Whitmire)

Until Saturday, I had never stepped foot in the state of Minnesota. I feel like I know the geography of the country fairly well, having traveled to more than half the states in the Union. I'm especially fond of the Midwest, having grown up in the Great Lakes. Still, Minnesota had never been on any sort of itinerary until now.

I thought I knew plenty about the Twin Cities. The Twins play in Minneapolis in the stadium that looks like a giant bubble. The state capitol is in St. Paul just across the river. It's that "across the river" part that I came to realize was hardly fact. The Twin Cities are, by all accounts of our driving time between St. Paul and Minneapolis, a 15 to 20-minute drive apart. Hardly right next door. And hardly across the river from one another.

Some St. Paulites (yes, that's what people who live in St. Paul are called; we asked.) are actually a bit upset that their fare city isn't receiving the due that it's earned by hosting the Republican National Convention. I've seen plenty of signs that mention the "Twin Cities Convention in St. Paul." And I've also heard at least a dozen people say they're in Minneapolis when they're actually in St. Paul. Clearly they're not St. Paulites.

Monday, September 1, 4:43 p.m.

"Observations from St. Paul...'"


(from ABC7 Chicago Executive Producer Douglas Whitmire)

The stresses of covering a political campaign are daunting. Most people don't realize the effort it takes to get live television on the air. But the stresses of doing our jobs often lead to humorous moments.

Example: Monday afternoon. I was attempting to listen to voice mail on my cell phone, which required me to go into a small room so that I could hear. Little did I know that the door handle was extremely sensitive. So, much to my chagrin, after I cleared my voice mail, I found myself locked in the little room during the middle of our newscast. Fortunately we were not on the air at the time, but still, I was locked in. Then the irony. The very cell phone I was cursing for not being loud enough to hear was my way out. I placed a call, someone came and opened the door. I'm free now... to continue our coverage.

Sunday, August 31, 6:18 p.m.

"St. Paul brought to 'grinding halt'"


(from ABC7 Chicago Executive Producer Douglas Whitmire)

The first thing I noticed when we arrived at the Republican National Convention was how much a bustling city comes to a halt because of the tightened security.

We talked with a couple on the streets of St. Paul on Sunday about how the downtown area of their city has come to a grinding halt. They were on their way to church but had to walk several more blocks than usual because of massive parking restrictions and street closures around the Xcel Center.

St. Paul's downtown has several fine restaurants near the area of the convention. On the same sidewalk where we talked to the couple headed to church, we also found many restaurants and businesses closed. If there's nowhere for the hungry people to park, they can't get to the restaurants to eat. Some establishments are open, but some of them have been leased by the national media to serve and feed the army of reporters, producers and photographers in the city for the convention.

Sunday, August 31, 3:58 p.m.

"Security tightened for convention"


(from ABC7 Chicago Special Project Producer Jason Knowles)

The process of getting in and out of the security stations can be challenging. When we first arrived this morning, we went through a security sweep with our car before we could enter the parking garage. After that, we entered another security and scanning post with dogs and metal detectors just to get into the blocked off area outside of the Xcel Center and into the media area.

After getting settled in the media station with our edit bays and laptop, we went to set up another media station in the skybox above the convention floor. That's where all of the live shots are done. To get into that area , you guessed it, we had to go through another security station!

After getting through with all of the equipment, we went through a maze of hallways, elevators and stairs to set up our second work station. Then, yes, we were finally able to cover the news!

All of the networks have built mini-compounds with phone lines, Internet access and video feeds. So, it's quite an amazing site to see.


Load Comments