ST. PAUL--Spent some time this afternoon in "The Fox Experience," which is basically just a great big Fox newsroom located across the street from the Xcel Energy Center. After going through security, delegates and other visitors can pick up some free Fox memoribilia and watch Fox's journalists do their thing. It all happens underneath a great big projected American flag (or something reasonably flag-esque):
Like almost everyone else who hit TFE, I was immediately drawn to the swag table. There was Fox hand sanitizer, Fox faux-straw hats with red and blue bunting, and buttons featuring your favorite Fox personality. To the dismay of pretty much everybody, though, only Alan Colmes was left:
The abundance of Colmeses and absence of his colleagues was a popular topic, but by no means the only thing on people's minds. Here's a sampling of what I heard during as I hung out in the civilian zone:
--"This is almost intoxicating. This is simply amazing."
--"I want Hannity. All they've got is Colmes."
--"Is this pepper spray?"
--"Nobody wants him [i.e. Colmes]. I feel bad for him."
--"Just as predicted, Joe--look who's left!"
--"I wasn't much of a Republican until 9-11. Actually, I think I was always a Republican. I saw what they did to Oliver North and I thought, I want a man like that doing things for my country!"
--"Are there any Hannity pins?"
That last query came from Laurette Mayo-Blasig, a portfolio manager and delegate from Los Gatos, California. When she saw me jotting down what she'd said, she was kind enough to introduce herself. And unlike some other delegates I've spoken with (or tried to), she was willing to provide some insight into what she--as a staunch member of the Red team--actually believes about life and politics. An edited transcript of our conversation follows, along with Laurette's photo; for those who think I was too diffident (starting with you, Dad), bear in mind that my mission here was sociological:
LAURETTE: I want an adult president, a president who has the life experience that John McCain has. If he could beat Hanoi Hilton--he was in there five years. Five years he went through that! He could beat all the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. He can talk right off the cuff because he knows what he's doing. He doesn't need a teleprompter. There was one time I saw--oh, I shouldn't say it.
ME: That's fine. Sarah Palin?
LAURETTE: I love her! I love that she's a tough woman. She said no to the Bridge to Nowhere--"If we want to have a bridge in Alaska, we'll build it!" You name me one politician that has an 88 percent approval rating. Name one!
ME: I can't do it.
LAURETTE: And I like the fact that she is a regular person, regular family woman, who achieved her goals. That's terrific to me.
ME: About Obama: one of the big themes this week has been not just that he's inexperienced, but that you don't really know who he is.
LAURETTE: You don't! He released one page on his health. One page! What is that?
ME: Is he healthy, maybe?
LAURETTE: I don't know! His doctor said he is healthy, period. McCain at 72 gave you a whole file, a whole dossier. But I don't want to go negative. I just want to talk about my candidate, who to me is a positive adult person. When Putin wants to bomb another country, I want someone who knows what he's doing.
ME: Well, I think he'd be better with Putin than--
ME: Well, Bush. Remember, Bush looked into Putin's eyes and saw into his soul or whatever--
LAURETTE: Bush isn't running.
ME: As you know, a lot of liberals think Fox's "Fair and Balanced" slogan isn't honest.
LAURETTE: Why? They have Alan Colmes! They have all the people on that are--
ME: But look at the Colmes buttons.
LAURETTE: It's a Republican convention! Why would they want the liberal commentator?
ME: It's a reasonable point. So would you say Fox is straight down the middle?
LAURETTE: Yes. As a matter of fact, I tell all my Democratic friends, because they watch CNN, and their favorite person is the independent, because he gives both sides--
ME: Which guy are we talking about here?
LAURETTE: Lou Dobbs.
ME: See, I think of him as conservative.
LAURETTE: He's not! He's an independent. He likes no one [laughs]. But he gives both sides, and on Fox, they always have both sides. Democrats see the world how they wish it could be; Republicans see the world how it is.
LAURETTE: Gotcha! He can't talk! He's speechless!
ME: I would say that the current Republican approach to foreign policy, at least in the Bush Administration--
LAURETTE: He's not running.
ME: I know, but you said Republicans. You didn't say McCain--
LAURETTE: They see the world how they wish. They're very emotional.
ME: The Bush Administration is?
LAURETTE: Democrats are very emotional.
ME: I understand Bush isn't running. But I'd say the Bush Administration's approach of remaking the Middle East, planting the seed of democracy by invading Iraq--to me, that's seeing the world how you want it to be.
LAURETTE: I have an answer to that. Have you seen another 9-11?
LAURETTE: Have you heard much in the mainstream media about Iraq or how it's going over there? No. Because it's doing well. Do you live in Newton? My old dear friend Nancy lives in Newton. It's a really fancy section of--
ME: It is very fancy. Is she a rare Massachusetts conservative?
LAURETTE: No, she's a Democrat voting for McCain. She doesn't like Obama. She's Jewish. A lot of Jewish people aren't voting for him. I'm not going into their reasons; I'm just telling you.
ME: I enjoyed talking to you.
LAURETTE: I enjoyed talking to you. Most Democrats come at me very angry, and then when I try to talk facts--"I don't want to talk about it anymore." I'm not talking about you, because you're educated. But a lot of them, it's pure emotion. I don't know how you can be liberal! You're too intelligent.
ME: That's very kind.
LAURETTE: And you're young. When I was young, I was a Democrat too.
Thanks again for chatting, Laurette, and enjoy the rest of the convention.