GOP CONVENTION Ohio delegates to hear mayor



The Ohio delegation received a 'pep talk' from Bush's top political adviser.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown Mayor George M. McKelvey, a Democrat who is endorsing the re-election of President Bush, was expected today to speak to the Ohio delegation at a breakfast at the Republican National Convention.
The Ohio delegation is being treated exceptionally well, probably because they represent a swing state that is up for grabs in the November president election, said Craig Bonar, Trumbull Republican Party chairman.
Those speaking at Monday's morning Ohio breakfast were Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, and Ken Mehlman, the Bush-Cheney campaign manager.
"They told us we've got a lot of work to do," said Bonar, an alternate delegate to the convention.
Rove told the Ohio delegates: "You're going to see a lot of us. You are, like it or not, ground zero," according to Congressional Quarterly, a publication and Web site that covers national politics.
Front and center
Bonar said the Ohio delegation is in the front center portion of New York City's Madison Square Garden, where the convention is being held through Thursday. New York is to Ohio's right, and Florida to the left.
Bonar said he and Ann Womer Benjamin of Aurora, a convention delegate and the state's Department of Insurance director, were interviewed by a Norwegian newspaper reporter.
Bonar said McKelvey's endorsement of Bush is being met with mixed reaction by Ohio delegates.
"Some Republicans feel he should be strong enough to join the Republican Party," he said. "I'd prefer he'd switch to the Republican Party."
Bonar said New York City has been a bit of an adventure. He and his wife, Wendy, went to a comedy club Sunday night, and got lost at 1 a.m. Monday on their way back to the New York Marriott Marquis, where the Ohio delegation is staying.
"We asked someone and they told us how to get back," he said. "Everyone's very friendly here."
And if they're not, there's so much police presence in the city that there's little to fear, Bonar said.
Breakfast caucus
The Wednesday breakfast caucus of Ohio, Tennessee and California delegates includes speeches from Vice President Dick Cheney and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Boardman Trustee Elaine Mancini, a delegate, said Rove's Monday speech energized the delegates.
"He's just very positive about what the president is doing, and how everyone has to go out and encourage people to vote," she said. "He gave us a pep talk."
As part of the convention, each state's delegation is volunteering for community service in New York City.
The Ohio delegation will paint today at domestic violence shelters in New York City.
The six-person Mahoning Valley delegation to the convention is missing one. Greg Smith of Canfield, an alternate delegate, opted not to attend the convention because of an injury that makes it difficult for him to walk.
skolnick@vindy.com

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