State GOP delegation hugs like Dems

ST. PAUL, Minn. But they are also poking a little fun at Democrats back in Chicago.

The only question was when the Republicans from Illinois would stage their own hugfest to match the Democrats in Denver last week.

And the answer is - Thursday morning while they're still pumped from the electrifying acceptance speech by McCain's running mate.

"Let's show them some excitement and show Democrats they're not the only ones who can do the hugging," said State Senator Frank Watson, (R) minority leader.

Watson's also defending Palin from allegations of inexperience by reminding his colleagues that four years ago, Obama was still a state lawmaker who voted "present" hundreds of times in the Illinois senate.

"You vote green for yes, you vote red for no and the present button is yellow," Watson said.

No one was expecting McCain's acceptance speech to electrify the crowd like Watson or Palin.

"She needed to have that. I'm not so sure for him it's that important," said State Rep. Tom Cross, (R) house minority leader.

"He is the most experienced person running in this race and a great commander in chief and needs to do his own thing and not be Sarah Palin or Barack Obama," said State Senator Kirk Dillard, (R) Hinsdale.

But the new team's on quite a cruise and McCain's fundraising is through the roof in advance of next week's big-ticket event in Chicago.

"I think we're going to have a record amount of money raised for an event like this for Chicago. So we're very excited," said Bill Strong, McCain fundraiser.

McCain has raised $9 million in Illinois, while Obama has raised $17 million.

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