Vincent Campos was wearing two things no one else in the crowd of protesters had -- a suit, and a GOP convention badge identifying him as an alternate delegate from Texas.

Campos, 22, wore something more, too: An Iraq Campaign Medal worn by veterans of the war.

"I was for the war before," he said as the Xcel Energy Center loomed into view. "Then I went over there and totally became against this war. There is absolutely no reason we should be in Iraq."

There were not a lot of delegates among the marchers Monday. But there were thousands of ordinary Americans, carrying a message that two-thirds of America agrees with. Those kids and bluehairs may be annoying, but they are right: The war was a mistake, the country is in deep doo-doo.

So it's too bad the spotlight was hijacked by small bands of Ninja-clad street punks who enjoy getting thumped.

And it may be tough to argue that we don't have enough cops in these towns for a while. Yesterday, there was enough firepower on the street - including roving fleets of mini-vans that disgorged clown-car loads of riot-ready police - to annex Manitoba. The cops I saw behaved well on a hot day even if their sheer numbers and shiny new gear - the riot larders look to be well-stocked for years to come - were intimidating.

There might not have been enough cops if there had been 50,000 protesters, as predicted. Luckily, the protest was as miniaturized as the convention. And all but the chowderheads who played guerrilla street tag with the police were as well behaved as any St. Patrick's Day parade. Or better.

Note: No feces were flung during the siege of St. Paul. But there was horse flop, lots of it, as posses of cop horses chased the tricksters and left hazards for Republican wingtips.

I saw one protest photographer at Cedar and 7th Streets, snot and spit spewing from his face as he gasped for air and screamed about "fascists." His shirt was off, displaying tattoos on his chest that said "Guerrilla Warfare" and "Revolution."

"Be sure to report his tattoos," a McCain supporter from Inver Grove Heights named Rob Brown told me. "They explain it all." Maybe. But if we are going to gas people for their stupid tats, let's start in the singles bars.

Guerrilla Man was still sputtering as the hardcore mob came back, led by a skateboarder who zoomed down the hill between the Children's Museum and the headquarters of Minnesota Public Radio, where the news crawl on the side of the building said, "U.S. HANDS OVER CONTROL OF ANBAR TO IRAQ."

Later, more of them smashed windows, threw rocks and got gassed. It was unusual for St. Paul and Minneapolis, sure. But, as we say in Minnesota, it could have been worse. In a few more days, with luck, the news crawl will say: "U.S. HANDS CONTROL OF ST. PAUL BACK TO MINNESOTA." • 612-673-4400