Columbia Republicans react to DNC

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | 7:49 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — For some Columbia Republicans, the Democratic National Convention is on par with waiting in line or listening to other people tell you about their dreams: generally uninspiring and to be avoided if at all possible.

Mike Zweifel, communications chairman for the Central Missouri Young Republicans, chose to watch a documentary about Gilgamesh, a character from Babylonian epic poetry, instead of Michelle Obama's speech on Monday night.

"I'm not too interested. ... I'm doing other things," he said before letting out a quiet grunt of apathy. Watching the Democratic National Convention is not exactly his idea of relaxation after a hard day's work, he said.

For other Republicans, the opposing party's main event provides an opportunity for bipartisan schadenfreude. Cheri Reisch, vice chairwoman of the Boone County Republican Central Committee, laughed and recalled an Obama "blooper" when asked if she was watching the convention.

While being relayed to Denver via satellite Monday night, Barack Obama misstated his location. Responses the next day ranged from the Springfield's News-Leader's headline, "Obama from Kansas City: I'm ‘here in St. Louis'" to less diplomatic blog postings such as "Bumbling Obama thinks Kansas City is St. Louis" and "Obama Live from St. Kansas City Louis."

Others still would watch but are too busy running local campaigns to even turn on a television. Inside the Boone County Republican Headquarters - a sign-less building identifiable only by a little elephant in the window - people are concentrating on making Kenny Hulshof's bid for governor a success.

Three of his staff members looked incredulous at the idea that they would have time to watch the Democratic convention . "I haven't watched an ounce of it," said one as they anxiously shuffled round corners from task to task.

But a rare few Grand Old Party members, such as Jonathan Ratliff, president of the Mizzou College Republicans, are watching the Democratic convention with keen interest. Ratliff awoke before 6 a.m. on Tuesday to view Michelle Obama's Monday night address for a third time, and said in anticipation of Hillary Clinton's Tuesday night speech, "I'm actually very excited to see what she's going to say."

The MU sophomore conceded he's looking ahead to next week's Republican National Convention, but not at the expense of ignoring what the opposition is doing now.

"We all have good intentions," Ratliff said. "Everyone wants to make a difference, but we have different ways of going about that."


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