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In Praise of Sarah Palin and Moose at the Republican Convention

The Republican candidate for vice president has been introduced to the nation as a tough, can-do female politician. And Sam Hardage is buying the image. Hardage is a long-time conservative Republican leader who chaired the local Republican party from 1995-1997 when its 1996 national convention, held in the San Diego Convention Center, nominated the ticket of & Bob Dole and Jack Kemp.

Hardage is a major funder of Republican campaigns and chairman of The Hardage Group where he earns his millions by developing hotels. His wife, Vivian Hardage , is a community activist who helped start a San Diego Republican women's club and the Vision of Children Foundation. The family's contributions to Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign helped assure her seat on the prestigious Del Mar Fair Board.

Just before the Republican National Convention began earlier this month, I phoned Sam Hardage to set up an interview at the site on the Convention's first day. Hurricane Gustav changed everyone's schedule that day when the convention was truncated to just two hours. But Hardage was punctual and found my space on radio row while I was checking out the convention floor and the schedules of some other San Diego delegates. It is uncharacteristic of me to be late for appointments and I was profuse in my apologies while he responded diplomatically. The interview began and I got my first in-person exposure to the official Republican delegate reaction to Sarah Palin.