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Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

The Creative Coalition held a gathering for supporters. At Lurcat in Minneapolis was actor Charlene Tilton.

Politique: Snappy dressers, snappy comments, stingy tippers

By KRISTIN TILLOTSON, Star Tribune

Last update: January 06, 2009

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."

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