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Power suits couldn't hold a candle to the best-dressed man at the RNC, actor Giancarlo Esposito. In town with the Creative Coalition, a nonpartisan group of Hollywood talent who volunteer in support of issues including the First Amendment and arts education, Esposito was dapper in a slate-blue linen jacket and dashing hat at a Cafe Lurcat award reception. He said he'd been loving his morning runs along the river in the Mill District. "This city is such a great blend of old and new," he said. Fellow Coalition attendee Charlene Tilton, best known for her role on the '80s soap "Dallas," is a first-year member. Tilton, wearing a shimmering fitted jacket with hair clip to match, has a new project: playing Tammy Faye Bakker in a film she will also produce, having bought the rights from Bakker just before she died.Puttin' the hammer down in Maple Grove
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay took the slow road to the convention from his home in Sugar Land, Texas -- in his RV with his wife, Christine, and two Bichon frisés, Taylor and Bailey, because "my wife won't leave her dogs." They're parked in Maple Grove, with a car for tooling around town. DeLay said he's developed a fondness for the Twin Cities despite its inscrutable freeway system and his misgivings about this being "not exactly a pro-Republican state." The man known as The Hammer for his bareknuckled politics loved the pan-fried walleye at the St. Paul Grill, and got rhapsodic about D'Amico Cucina in Minneapolis: "I couldn't pronounce what I had, but it was goo-ood." A week of Midwestern hospitality hasn't tamed the Hammer's tongue. "I support Palin more than McCain," he said, adding that McCain had to bring the Alaska governor aboard or risk losing the party's conservative base.A softer hammer?
Her husband's campaign chairwoman called Cindy McCain "a velvet hammer" at a 1,500-guest love fest Thursday at the Hilton. Guests stood so often to clap that the ballroom looked like a church at High Mass. After introductions by "The View's" Elisabeth Hasselbeck and fellow GOP spouse Todd Palin, McCain -- in a characteristically bright tangerine dress -- said she's inspired by her husband: "Every time I look at him onstage, and I see people with tears in their eyes and hope in their hearts, I can't tell you what that does for me."Cabbies vs. fiscal conservatives
When asked how tips had been this week, a downtown Minneapolis cabbie paused and mumbled, "OK." When informed he was speaking to a journalist, not a delegate, he said: "In that case, they've been lousy. These people don't give any extra money. I thought, maybe they are British. But no. They are Americans who don't tip like Americans."Eagle watching
The Eagle Grille (aka the CNN Grill) was the best ticket in town for CNN talent-spotting. Campbell Brown and Anderson Cooper alit for short stints Thursday evening. Brown said she'll be on the first flight out Friday and then will sleep "late" Saturday -- 6:30 a.m., when her son Eli, 8 months, awakes. She was ready with a photo on her Blackberry ("since you asked") of the bald and beauteous tot. Cooper was more reticent. Asked if he had any secrets to reveal, he said, "I have a pet monkey." Well, not really.Fade to black
En route to the Daughtry party Wednesday, Minneapolis lawyer-to-the-rock-stars Ken Abdo stopped into downtown Minneapolis bar Mission and wound up viewing Gov. Sarah Palin's speech with verbally volatile comedian Lewis Black. "It was like getting a free show," Abdo said, adding that Black -- in town for a performance Thursday -- had more to say about Rudolph Giuliani's speech than Palin's, which sort of "just left him speechless." Enter a bartender at Mission, who cracked them all up by calling Palin "the naughty librarian."
Contributors: Rochelle Olson, Maria Baca and Chris Riemenschneider.