GOP delegate celebrates 81st birthday

ST. PAUL - Arles Kumpula waited a full year for Tuesday. Or maybe it was more like 81 years. The New York Mills woman, whose Republican roots stretch back to Barry Goldwater, celebrated her 81st birthday as a Republican National Convention altern...

ST. PAUL - Arles Kumpula waited a full year for Tuesday.

Or maybe it was more like 81 years.

The New York Mills woman, whose Republican roots stretch back to Barry Goldwater, celebrated her 81st birthday as a Republican National Convention alternate delegate Tuesday, a year after her family's birthday gift was money to allow her to attend the convention.

"I have been looking forward to this for a whole year," she said shortly after the rest of the Minnesota GOP delegation sang her "Happy Birthday."

She has had a workout so far during this, her first, national convention. "My legs told me I did."


Kumpula, who taught first grade in Perham for 30 years, said she was disappointed President Bush could not attend the convention in person, but that has not diminished the excitement she feels.

Republican politics fits her well, she said.

"I believe their issues," she said. "I believe we have to give back to the people a lot."

Red Lake leads

The Red Lake Veterans of Foreign Wars color guard post kicked off Tuesday night's convention session.

Working with a New Brighton color guard, the four Red Lake men entered the hall dressed in full Native American regalia. Most noticeable was Jim Brown of Bemidji, carrying a staff with eagle feathers. Others carried flags.

John Barrett, who lives on the reservation, said: "It's a great honor, really."

There was no doubt the post would accept the invitation, even though Red Lake is heavily Democratic, Rocky Cook of Bemidji said. "It's a no-brainer. It really is an honor to do this."


"We represent the United States of America, whether they are Democrats or Republicans," Cook said. "We're standing behind that flag because we carried it half-way around the world."

Diplomats hosted

Minnesota Gov. and Mary Pawlenty hosted about 90 ambassadors and other diplomats at the governor's mansion Tuesday morning.

"Minnesota has never before hosted so many foreign diplomats at the same time," Pawlenty said.

The diplomats were in town to watch the Republican National Convention.

Will they fall?

One of the biggest questions of the convention is whether by Thursday night there will be enough time elapsed from the Hurricane Gustav problem that GOP officials will allow 200,000 balloons to drop in celebration of John McCain becoming the party's nominee.

School children inflated the balloons last weekend, but McCain urged convention organizers to tone down the convention in light of Gustav. Now, convention-goers can look up and see the balloons in massive bags on the Xcel Energy Center's ceiling, just waiting for a mission.


Amid the multi-ton light and sound equipment hanging above delegates, the balloons look insignificant. But they always add a festive touch to a convention.

Seeing the balloons reminds some long-time political observers of the time when the convention ran so late that doves placed near the ceiling to celebrate the nomination did not do well in the hot air, and when nets were opened for them to fly away, many just dropped, literally, dead.

Different protesters

Protesters at the Republican National Convention are proving they are not early-morning folks.

Midwest anti-war organizations Tuesday placed a boot for every soldier killed from their states on the state Capitol lawn and at 9 a.m. people began reading the names of the dead. Five people in the audience chatted amid the boots. No one else was in the area, other than workers tearing down a stage from Monday's 10,000-person protest march.

And this year's protest showed how war opponents have changed over the years.

On a closed Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard sat automatic teller machines next to booths selling high-priced food and water.

How different that is from the Vietnam war days, where protesters shared food - and other substances.


Big names set

The big names turn out for Wednesday morning's daily Minnesota convention delegation meeting.

Included on the agenda are well-known Republicans such as Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former presidential contender Mitt Romney and ex-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

Tires slashed

Tires on two of three buses Minnesota delegates use during the convention were slashed, their drivers discovered Tuesday morning.

The incident delayed delegates on their first stop Tuesday, but was not a major problem.


State Capitol reporters are blogging from the Republican National Convention at .

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