MINNEAPOLIS Jack Connor and Mike Conner will not have the opportunity to eat hors doeuvres and swim in the Westin Hotels hot tub all week like Kansas delegates to the Republican National Convention. But the two KU students do not care. They feel lucky to even be there.
The Federation of College Republicans selected Connor, Overland Park senior, and Conner, Shawnee graduate student, to receive credentials to the convention and free lodging at Concordia College.
Connor was one of 40 members of the organization who were awarded tickets to the convention based on participation in a competition called STORM that asked the College Republicans to create and invite people to groups supporting the partys platform.
Connor barely made the cut, ranking 38th. Conner, who ranked in the low forties, was barely invited as well receiving the spot only after the state chairman of the organization declined his invitation.
George Weston, 2006 University graduate and Kansas State graduate student, gave Conner his spot when he was asked by the state party to be a delegate aide. The aide position will allow Weston access to the floor at the convention a coveted area few convention goers besides delegates have access to.
Weston said he was glad he was able to give his seat to Conner because it meant 20 percent of the College Republicans attending were from Kansas alone.
Neither Connor nor Conner is involved in politics outside of College Republicans.
Connor is an advertising major in the School of Journalism. He was in Student Senate for three years but did not run for a seat in last springs election.
Conner is pursing a doctorate in biochemistry. He was a College Republicans member his freshman and sophomore years at the University, but later quit. He said he recently rejoined because he felt Republicans did not have a large enough presence on campus.
At KU theres only one side that gets heard, he said. I think there should be rational debate from both sides.
In addition to the convention activities, Connor and Conner will participate in a College Republicans campaign while in Minneapolis.
Im just glad I got a way up here, Connor said. He said he did not mind staying at Concordias dorms because they were near the convention and public transportation centers.
Connor and Conner were able to live the high life of the delegates for one evening, though. The two stayed in Westons hotel room Sunday in Edina, Minn.
While at the hotel, they saw former presidential candidate Fred Thompson and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.
Conner said he had heard Al Sharpton, members of the band Styx and two other stars were staying at the hotel, but he was unable to catch a glimpse of them.
The two hoped to see President Bush for the first time in person, but Bush may be unable to attend the convention because of Hurricane Gustav.
Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were scheduled to speak during Mondays primetime television coverage of the event, but the conventions evening proceedings were canceled.
Even though he was disappointed with the distraction, Connor said the situation could work to partys favor.
The party has already come together behind our candidate, he said. The only side drama here will be with the hurricane, and that is a show of putting the country first.
Conner predicted that presidential candidate John McCain would not end up speaking at the convention either, saying McCain and Bush would probably give televised speeches instead. He said he still hoped the first lady would speak even if her husband did no.
I think shes a really good example of a first lady, Conner said. Shes done a really good job staying out of policy making, but still being engaged.