We speak with a few of the Republican delegates leaving Madison Square Garden last night after President Bush accepted his party’s nomination to run for a second term. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: We want to turn to Fernando Suarez Del Solar, the father of Marine Lance Corporal Jesus Suarez, one of the first U.S. servicemen to die in Iraq, who also made it into the convention center and was thrown out. But before we do that, thought we would go to a few of the delegates and their wives who were leaving Madison Square Garden last night after the final big night.
AMY GOODMAN: Where are you from? What’s your name?
RON BOSHIER: Cincinnati, Ohio. Ron Boshier.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you a delegate?
RON BOSHIER: Honorary.
AMY GOODMAN: What’s your name?
MARY BOSHIER: Mary Boshier, from Cincinnati, also. RHONDA CORN: I am with him. He’s a delegate. I am Rhonda Corn.
DOUG CORN: I’m Doug Corn from Cincinnati.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think is the most important issue?
DOUG CORN: Absolutely keeping America safe.
RON BOSHIER: I would agree.
RHONDA CORN: Agree also.
MARY BOSHIER: Agree, loose I think it’s the integrity of our leader. I think we need a leader we can trust and think George W. Bush is the man. So we are excited for him.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you heard — have you seen any of the protests outside?
DOUG CORN: Sure. America’s a free place. God bless everybody. You know. Go out and vote.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you seen much of it?
DOUG CORN: I’ve seen some. But all I’ve seen has been peaceful and well respected. And I respect them.
RON BOSHIER: I saw a little bit, but it seemed to all be under control. I didn’t see any of the hoopla that you read about in the paper.
MARY BOSHIER: I didn’t see any. I expected a lot and didn’t really see any. We love New York. It’s been a great place to hold a convention.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you heard about the number of arrests there have been of protesters?
DOUG CORN: Say that again.
AMY GOODMAN: The number of arrests.
RON BOSHIER: There weren’t any, were there?
AMY GOODMAN: There were close to 2,000.
RON BOSHIER: Oh, really?
DOUG CORN: I did read that in the paper.
RON BOSHIER: I think the city police did an unbelievable job. They did an unbelievable job getting us in here, getting us out of here, as safe as possible, cutting down the hassles as much as possible for the New Yorkers. It was just a great experience. I thought it was excellent.
AMY GOODMAN: Some of the delegates coming out of Madison Square Garden last night. And I did hear this over and over again. Delegates saying that they hardly saw protesters, that it was minimal. That they weren’t aware of the arrests. Medea Benjamin?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well I don’t know what city they were in, because you couldn’t go around the city without seeing protesters. Everywhere you went, you saw the buttons of George Bush with this stripe through it, you saw No War! signs in the windows.
AMY GOODMAN: Everywhere you went. They were in a very different world. And protesters were so cordoned off in many cases.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: But there was an area also where protesters were close to the Madison Square Garden and would be waiting for delegates coming in and out, telling them, you know, End To The War! Stop The Occupation! We were at their hotels. We did marches in the mornings going from hotel to hotel to hotel talking to delegates. So they saw us everywhere. I think this is a planned strategy to downplay the demonstrations.
JUAN GONZALEZ: I would agree with you. I think that what happened is that the Republican delegates all got talking points from their own party what to say to the press in terms of the minimal impact that the demonstrations had. Especially in the Broadway area where many of them were in the restaurants, there was no way that they could have avoided seeing the demonstrations. They just sought to downplay them. But I would like to ask you: What about the efficacy even of the protests, especially of the ones in the Garden which were the ones basically that the national press would see even more. What’s your response to those who say that they were largely ineffective and momentary and what good were they able to accomplish?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, they just put the Republican Party in a fury. They had them calling the stations. I got calls from the major networks last night telling me how furious the Republicans were. I mean this — their only message is security. Security. Security, security. We will build Fortress America, they won’t be able to get in here. And then they have 10,000 security guards at the Madison Square Garden and they can’t keep out this group of women and their friends? I mean, they were so upset. And I think that is indicative that, you know, you can’t build a fortress big enough. You can’t build a wall high enough. They know that in Israel, we know that in quote Fortress America, and now we see it in Fortress Republican Party.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting the strategy that was used on the floor of the convention over these last few days. Any time a protest, a protester managed to engage in an action, you would immediately hear “Four More Years! Four More Years!” and then banners would go up around the person. They would have a certain set of placards and the security was as interested in stopping the press from photographing anything. In fact, when John McCain singled out Michael Moore and he was actually in the convention center, they immediately put up banners over his face and security moved in and formed a ring to prevent journalists from getting to Michael Moore’s area who was there legally and he hadn’t engaged in a disruption. John McCain pointed him out.