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Republicans leave, but quotes remain

ST. PAUL - Between a dozen and two dozen speakers took to the podium each of the last three nights of the Republican National Convention, each trying to leave at least one quote in delegates' minds.

Some succeeded. Some didn't.

"You better look for the sun to rise from the west because it is going to shine from Arizona to Alaska," former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said, referring to the home states of the GOP ticket of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin.

Many of the speakers talked about Palin, who inserted needed energy into the St. Paul convention.

"She got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for present of the United States," ex-presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said, comparing Palin to the Democratic vice presidential candidate.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani delivered one of the most rousing speeches.

"He is the least experienced candidate for president in at least the last 100 years," Giuliani said about Democrat Barack Obama. "Not a personal attack, just a statement of fact. Barack Obama has not led anything. Nothing. Nada."

And Obama has a history of changing his mind, the former mayor added: "If I were Joe Biden, I would want to get that VP thing in writing."

Palin herself wowed the convention, especially when talking about her frugality:

"That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay. I also drive myself to work. And I thought we could muddle through without the governor's personal chef -- although I've got to admit that sometimes my kids sure miss her."

And then there was Minnesota U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, speaking in the middle of the city where he once was mayor.

"Welcome to Pigs Eye," he said before explaining that was the original name of St. Paul.

Two Pawlentys

After claiming he was not disappointed in being skipped over as John McCain's running mate, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty presented two personas.

In one, he delivered a rousing speech praising McCain during the last night of the Republican National Convention. In the other, he appeared defeated and uninterested.

The 47-year-old governor sat in a private box to watch McCain's acceptance speech Thursday night, looking far less than enthusiastic about the candidate whose campaign he is co-chairman. He offered what appeared to observers to be tepid applause. He often sat down long before others while others in the convention hall remained on their feet cheering and he seemed disinterested.

On the other hand, we was in good spirits during a skit on NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

The governor was "interviewed" by a puppet called Triumph the Insult Comic Dog at the convention. The puppet said Pawlenty was "keeping a brave face after having been rejected, humiliatingly so. He toyed with you for like a month or two and then he chose Sarah Palin for vice president. How excited are you about that?"

Pawlenty laughed, unable to get a word in.

Quick response

The Minnesota Capitol Security corps was ready to respond if protesters caused trouble during the Republican National Convention -- but the House minority leader?

Officers responded quickly to catch him, too.

Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, was taking a late-night tour of the House chamber for convention guests. As he was reaching to turn on the light switch, he hit the alarm button instead. Within half a minute, he said, officers were there.

As one of the few Minnesota lawmakers who also are convention delegates, Seifert offered tours -- at any time of the day -- to visiting lawmakers.

An earmark 'posse'

Increasingly more members of Congress care coming around on the issue of federal earmarked spending, U.S. Rep. John Kline said.

Kline, who represents Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District, told Republican National Convention delegates from his home state this morning that other lawmakers have joined him and a select group in Congress in refusing to request federal earmarks for local projects. He described the growing group as a "posse" of about 50 lawmakers.

"They recognize that the system is broken," Kline said, adding projects are funded based on Capitol Hill politics instead of merit.

Democrats have criticized Kline for passing up chances to secure federal funds for his district south of the Twin Cities.

Talking, talking

An agriculture-related party thrown during the Republican National Convention brought out a handful of current and former state lawmakers.

But even they admitted the AgNite gala in downtown Minneapolis was more about wining, dining and socializing than it was a place to talk serious ag issues.

"For me it's about coming up and seeing friends," said Rep. Rod Hamilton, a Mountain Lake Republican and pork producer.

Another rural lawmaker, Rep. Dean Urdahl of Grove City, was asked what he got out of making the rounds at the late-night event.

"Sore feet," he responded.

Urdahl did say there was small talk about future agriculture legislation, but he did not offer any specifics.

Admission wasn't cheap for those Minnesota lawmakers. Ethics guidelines required that they pay $60 to attend the event, which featured drinks, food and live music.

Watching Pawlenty

Many will be watching for what Gov. Tim Pawlenty's political future holds, including a top lawmaker who negotiates with him on legislative issues.

Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said the fact that Pawlenty was not chosen as a vice presidential candidate means he has a decision to make in the coming months.

"I think it's going to be very interesting whether this launches Gov. Pawlenty into a much longer national audition for the presidency," Kelliher said, "or whether Gov. Pawlenty kind of has this experience and comes back and says, 'I really want to accomplish some big bold things for Minnesota.'"

Pawlenty can cite a few major legislative accomplishments, but mostly has had a "tumultuous" relationship with the Legislature, Kelliher said.