Sarah Palin didn’t hit a home run Wednesday night, according to southern Minnesota delegate Neal Breitbarth.

“She scored a hat trick,” Breitbarth said in homage to the Alaska governor’s “hockey mom” persona. “It was much better than a home run.”

And the Republican National Convention, despite having the prime-time portion of Monday’s schedule erased, is better than the two previous RNCs Breitbarth has attended. The Fairmont businessman was in San Diego in 1996 when Kansas Sen. Bob Dole was nominated and 2000 when Texas Gov. George W. Bush was the party’s choice.

“The energy is really, really up there,” Breitbarth said before Arizona Sen. John McCain’s speech accepting the party’s nomination Thursday night. “This is my third convention, and I can honestly say there’s more energy at this than the previous two.”

The assessment comes from a conservative Republican who was admittedly unexcited about McCain until recently and decided late in the process to seek a delegate slot because he was concerned that the conservative wing of the Minnesota Republican party was going to be underrepresented.

But McCain won him over even before the Palin pick, and Breitbarth was thrilled to get to greet the candidate and his wife at a Minneapolis event where delegates were volunteering to bag up relief supplies for hurricane victims.

“While we were there, John and Cindy McCain in,” he said. “... We got to meet the future president of the United States.”

Lots of media

There are a few more than 2,300 delegates in St. Paul and an estimated 15,000 media members. The math doesn’t seem to add up — more than six media types for every delegate — but Breitbarth helps explain how it works out.

“I’ve been interviewed by the Chicago Sun Times, various TV stations, news organizations from around the world,” he said.

...and media bashing Breitbarth laughs about the number of interview requests delegates are subjected to. But the McCain campaign is offering a less than good-natured response and may be adopting a strategy of attacking the media, according to some analysts.

There has been harsh criticism from McCain campaign staff of the stories written about Palin’s record as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, and as governor, along with the news about her family.

McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt accused journalists of undertaking a “mission to destroy” Palin.

McCain’s campaign co-chair, Meg Whitman, was more charitable to the press coverage in an interview with Fox News.

“I actually think it’s completely fair for the media to vet Sarah Palin, just as they did for Barack Obama and John McCain and everyone else who’s running for office,” Whitman said. “I mean, you are running for the second highest office in the land.”

Twin Cities reviews

Good media coverage is one of the goals for a community hosting a national political convention, and there’s been plenty of that for St. Paul and Minneapolis, according to MSP 2008 Host Committee spokeswoman Teresa McFarland.

McFarland has a list of examples from the Washington Times (“an urban area that works”), the London Financial Times (“a robust and diverse business community”), the San Francisco Chronicle (“stunning riverfront scenery”), and The Washington Post (“tons of volunteers exuding Midwestern good cheer”).

One from the New York Times is probably the most glowing.

“Living in a place that has a necklace of urban lakes, a passel of wonderful theater and dining, and a musical legacy that includes both the Replacements and Prince, Twin Citians have a humble sort of pride about where they live,” according to the Times. “And boy are they friendly. People from both coasts will have to get used to the fact that when clerks ask how they are, they really want to know.”

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