FF resident Prischmann taking in RNC [UPDATED]Published 11:08am Thursday, August 30, 2012 Updated 8:24am Monday, September 10, 2012
In the marquee conservative event of the political season, Fergus Falls resident Karen Prischmann wants to make sure that Otter Tail County is represented well.benefits
“I’m doing my best,” she said.
Prischmann is one of the 40 alternate delegates from Minnesota attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and she and her husband Tom are enjoying every minute of it. She’s drinking in the speeches, the celebratory atmosphere and the chance to see conservative heavyweights up close and personal.
In fact, she’s already accomplished one of her personal goals for the convention. When she and her Minnesotan brethren first arrived in the Tampa airport over the weekend, she was briefly interviewed by a local TV crew.
“I said I was looking the most forward to hearing Mitt Romney speak and shaking Michele Bachmann’s hand,” she said.
Though hurricane concerns caused the GOP to push back its Monday start date of the convention – “All we got was rain and some really fierce winds,” Prischmann noted – the Minnesota delegation still met that morning for breakfast and information. Prischmann wasn’t expecting to see anyone too famous.
“Someone tapped me on the shoulder, and I turned around and it was Michele Bachmann,” said Prischmann.
With her first personal goal down, she’s looking forward to seeing Romney speak tonight.
Of course, Prischmann’s personal goals were secondary to her true purpose at the convention: participating as a delegate if one of the 40 regular delegates had to bow out. That didn’t happen, but Prischmann said it’s still been an honor to represent her state. She’s been able to be on the floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum arena quite a bit, so long as official voting procedures aren’t going on. For TV watchers, she said that the Minnesotan delegation can be easily seen because they’re right next to the delegates from Texas.
“They’ve all got cowboy hats on,” she said with a laugh.
Every morning, the delegation meets for breakfast and word about what they’ll be doing. They also hear a speaker, one of many throughout the day (Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spoke to the delegates on Tuesday). In the afternoon, they head to the heavily secured arena, which fills to the brim by the time all of the delegates arrive.
Throughout the day, procedural and candidate votes are interspersed with music and speakers – each of whom get more famous as the night goes on. Though Prischmann was inspired by Ann Romney and entertained and informed by Chris Christie, she also was interested to learn about lesser-known people like South Carolina’s Indian American Governor Nikki Haley, who told the crowd the story of how her hardworking immigrant parents made it in this country.
“She said, ‘Only in America could this happen,’” recalled Prischmann, adding that Haley’s speech was part of a “We Built This” theme being touted at the convention – a theme seen by many as a response to a recent controversial speech by President Barack Obama.
The speeches have been a real highlight for Prischmann, who said it’s easier to hear the whole of someone’s views by listening to them talk rather than just hearing a sound bite. Another highlight has been interacting with her fellow delegates and alternates, many of whom come from different kinds of conservative backgrounds than she does.
Prischmann noted that the majority of the regular Minnesotan delegates were supporters of GOP candidate Ron Paul, and many were unhappy with some convention rules changes they thought were aimed at keeping them from voting for their candidate of choice (Minnesota’s caucus vote went to Rick Santorum). Though they sometimes disagree on political philosophy, Prischmann said they’ve all had an enriching experience discussing their ideals, and she feels like everyone has gained a different perspective – a feeling she applies to the convention as a whole.
That she and every other person from a small town or out-of-the-way place could make it to Tampa is an example in her mind that grassroots politics can make a difference.
“There’s old people, there’s young people, there’s good looking people and not so good looking people,” she said. “It’s amazing to me that you can have so many diverse backgrounds and still come to some conclusions.”