Minnesota's delegation to the Republican National Convention got another reminder Tuesday morning of their Democratic-leaning state's second-class status in the GOP universe.
John Bolton, the former United Nations ambassador under President George W. Bush, was scheduled to speak to the Minnesota group Tuesday morning. Then the prominent foreign policy neo-conservative, who had mulled his own run for president this year, canceled at the last minute.
"I'm truly, truly sorry. We do not have Ambassador Bolton," Minnesota's Republican National Committeewoman, Janet Beihoffer, told the group assembled in the Lake Shore Ballroom at the Holiday Inn in suburban Mentor. She cited a scheduling glitch. "If you ever, ever get anywhere near where this man is speaking -- get in to hear him."
A delegate in the hotel lobby earlier in the morning bumped into Bolton, who apparently thought he was supposed to speak at 7:45 rather than 9 a.m. and had to leave for another obligation.
Bolton was the most high-profile speaker scheduled for the Minnesota delegation. States that could swing either way in November tend to get political stars: Pennsylvania's delegation listened to House Speaker Paul Ryan over their eggs and coffee; Michigan gets a pair of high-profile governors, Chris Christie and John Kasich, while convention hosts Ohio hosted GOP rising star Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
Signs abound at the convention of Minnesota's strategic non-importance to Republicans on the national level, as well as the general preference of many in the delegation for someone other than Donald Trump as presidential candidate. While some state delegations landed rooms at downtown hotels near Quicken Loans Arena, Minnesota is stuck nearly 30 miles out with another blue-state delegation, Hawaii. Similarly, Minnesota's spot on the convention floor is near the outer edge, with a not-so-great view of the stage.
Some Minnesota delegates were still smarting Tuesday morning after a brief floor fight over convention rules a day earlier. The scuffle was something of a last stand by Trump dissidents, and it split the Minnesota delegation: some delegates who initially supported the effort were convinced under heavy lobbying by party leaders and Trump campaign operatives to drop it.
"I never expected a red carpet, but those of us bound by the RNC rules to other presidential candidates are certainly feeling less than welcome," said Andy Aplikowski, a delegate from Andover. He said RNC officials and the Trump campaign are "delusional to assume delegates will just sit there and take it."
Minnesota GOP Chairman Keith Downey acknowledged the hard feelings but said that's how political conventions go.
"I think we moved beyond a lot of that last night. It's day two of a four-day convention," Downey said. "People fight hard and they don't like to lose."
Roll call: Minnesota’s roll call was sounded by U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, left, who introduced our state as “Home of 10,000 Lakes, home of Spam, home of the late, great Prince, and the state that has had the longest drought for Republican presidents, which will change this year.” He then listed Minnesota’s delegate tally: Sen. Marco Rubio 17, Sen. Ted Cruz 13, “and eight for the next president of the United States of America, Donald Trump.”