BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : AUGUST 14, 2000 ISSUE
NEWS: ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY

So This Delegate Walks into a Bar...
On the whole, Republicans preferred to party in Philadelphia

It's Day One of the Republican National Convention, but the action isn't on the convention floor. As delegates dutifully perform for the TV cameras, thousands of lobbyists, donors, and other VIPs are taking to the city for a night of celebrating. But this is partying with a purpose. Amid free-flowing liquor, loud music, and tons of food, the real ''work''--the ear-bending, the buttonholing, the arm-twisting--takes place.

The fun begins at happy hour. In a downtown ballroom, Teamsters President James P. Hoffa basks in the glow of the Republican National Committee, which is throwing a mixer for the still-uncommitted union chief. RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson gloats that it's the first time in 20 years that the GOP has honored a labor boss. Giddy GOPers pose for snapshots with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

''FIGHT NIGHT.'' Across Philly, a dozen events are starting to buzz. Arizona Senator John McCain has taken over a top restaurant. A Comedy Central soiree draws thousands. But the hottest action is under a tent in a West Philly parking lot that was once the sound stage for American Bandstand. Behind an iron fence and a clutch of cops, big shots boogie to Chubby Checker. The guest of honor? GOP Representative Michael G. Oxley of Ohio, who could become House Commerce Committee chairman next year. The hosts? Some two dozen companies with committee business, including utilities seeking deregulation and insurers fighting health-care reform.

Partygoers include John Hoel, a lobbyist for Philip Morris Cos., currently being sued by the Justice Dept. Hoel tries to run from the press but has trouble finding his limo--they all look alike, you know. Then, there's lobbyist Richard S. Kessler. Did he bend Oxley's ear about bills that could affect his clients? ''Absolutely not,'' Kessler barks. Others couldn't pass up the chance. ''Yeah, I talked shop,'' says Thomas Snedeker of WinStar Communications Inc. ''We have no choice but to play'' the game.

At the old Navy Yard, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is treating big donors to ''Fight Night'' with African American boxing greats Roy Jones Jr., Larry Holmes, and Michael Spinks. Women in stilettos introduce the ex-champs in a mock ring. And Democrats say Republicans aren't sensitive to women and minorities!

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott is late. So bored guests wander across the shipyard toward the tiki torches at the ''Survivor California'' bash in honor of the California congressional delegation. Lockheed Martin, SAIC, SBC communications, United Airlines, and others are picking up the tab, and it's a whopper. Hula dancers. Steel drums. A fire-eater in faux leopard-skin boots. Whole roast pig and daiquiris served up in hollowed-out pineapples. Lobbyists stash their laptops and hit the dance floor. The party is raging. And it's only 1 a.m.

By Lorraine Woellert in Philadelphia

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

BACK TO TOP
RELATED ITEMS
Bushonomics: Voodoo in the Numbers?

TABLE: The Bush Agenda

So This Delegate Walks into a Bar...

Commentary: The Perils of Bush-Whacking

Commentary: Bush's Foreign Policy: Like Father, Like Son?



INTERACT
E-Mail to Business Week Online

 
Copyright 2000-2009, Bloomberg L.P.
Terms of Use   Privacy Notice