I’ve never been to Milwaukee before, although I spent many hours dreaming of living the life of Shirley Feeney and Laverne De Fazio. Mom quickly made me turn off Laverne and Shirley after realizing they worked at a beer bottling factory.
Nevertheless, I flew into Milwaukee yesterday for the Wisconsin GOP convention here in Lake Geneva–what a great time I’ve had here. I was invited to speak at a today’s luncheon, but was quickly sobered after realizing I was following two pretty impressive speakers: Sam Brownback and Tommy Thompson.
Tommy Thompson was particularly impressive, coming off as a sincere, funny guy but with great ideas. The crowd loved him–as they would–but he didn’t let them off the hook.
“A couple of you don’t think I can win,” he said from the podium.
But then, he went into great detail about his Iowa forays. He’s been in Iowa every week since December. And he’s going from one county to another, until he makes it all the way across the entire state. (Note to Romney camp: Apparently Gov. Thompson belongs to the motorcycle Hall of Fame and is bringing “a thousand” bikers to Iowa for the Ames straw poll.)
However, the most hilarious moment of the weekend belongs to Sam Brownback. He was speaking last night to our group, and was trying to make a serious point about the family being the building blocks of America. He had a serious tone in his voice.
“This is fundamental blocking and tackling,” he said. “This is your line in football. If you don’t have a line, how many passes can Peyton Manning complete? Greatest quarterback, maybe, in NFL history.”
When he said these words, the entire crowd erupted in boos. I’ve never seen anything like it. The entire speech came to a halt, Brownback put his head in his hands, and apologized.
He tried to correct himself, replacing Peyton Manning’s name with Brett Favre and beginning again.
“Let’s take Favre then,” Brownback said. “The Packers are great. I’m sorry. How many passes does he complete without a line?”
A guy at a table to my left yelled out, “Oh, about six or seven.”
The crowd was implacable after that. He decided to drop the analogy and finished his (otherwise pretty good) speech. However, people talked about it in hushed tones all day. (And one or two speakers cracked jokes about his gaffe.)
Anyway, as you know, I love this stuff. Wisconsinites are so hospitable–the President of the Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women even took me to her church tonight, on a tour of downtown Milwaukee tonight, and then to Miller Field for dinner.
It has been a fantastic weekend, full of drama, tales of elections lost and elections won–what fun to be welcomed into a state in such a way. My audience was absolutely the best! (But Lenny and Squiggy were no shows. Maybe next time.)