From CBS News' Allison O'Keefe:
(ST. PAUL, Minn.) As reporters start to arrive in this twin city, Republicans have the handouts ready and waiting. Today it was a color copy of the New York Post's front page. "O My God: Dems erect Obama temple" reads the cover over a picture of the stage at Invesco Field.
Today the finishing touches were put on the Republican National Convention stage and the plain, brown podium, which resembles one a college professor might use, was unveiled. Convention President and CEO, Maria Cino told reporters that the stage will be a sharp contrast to the Democratic convention in Denver. "I think what you see is a very simplistic stage. A stage that is much lower than it has been in the past. A stage that John McCain has used throughout his campaign where he is talking directly to his audience not standing above his audience."
Behind the podium is an enormous screen that stands 30 feet high and 50 feet wide, which will show biography videos and other forms of media. According to Cino, it is the first HD screen to be used at a convention.
In an interview with CBS News, General Contractor Greg Lane, said that the stage is the lowest in convention history. Lane, who produced the Republican convention four years ago, pointed out that that the six foot high stage used then was the shortest at the time, and the 2008 version is two feet shorter than that, standing at only four feet high.
Hundreds of local workers began converting the Xcel Energy Center from a hockey arena to the 2008 Republican convention on July 21st. They removed bleachers, cleaned out locker rooms, built platforms and transformed suites into television studios in order to house 20,000 people.
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