Live Blogging the Missoula Republican Caucus

by Pete Talbot and Rebecca Schmitz

Since we’ve been here (a little over a hour), we’ve heard several speeches. One or two individuals were allowed to speak on behalf of each of the candidates. Most received polite (or in the case of Ron Paul, enthusiastic) applause but one: Kim Handy. Ms. Handy, speaking on behalf of Sen. John McCain, loudly announced “[smooching the microphone] Will the next speakers for Mitt Romney and Ron Paul please KISS: Keep it short, stupid! We have yet to vote!”

Needless to say, that didn’t go over very well.

Right now, the delegates have voted. Party officials, including our friend Carol Minjares of Missoulapolis, are tallying the votes. The alcohol is flowing and there’s a long line at the ersatz nacho bar.

In the meantime, a lot of the Ron Paul supporters seem to be college kids. They’re all carrying signs emblazoned with their political savior’s name. They were the ones who booed the loudest at Kim Handy. I can’t remember most of the content of the speeches on behalf of Mitt Romney, but two far-right Republican friends of mine (I know, I’m surprised too) here told me disapprovingly Mitt’s “playing the Reagan card”. They feel any mention of Ronnie on his part rings hollow.

On the dry erase board numbers are tallied, like a primary school election. Ron Paul has a dramatic lead with Mitt trailing. McCain and Huckabee are minor blips.

Much of the crowd has left but the faithful remain.

Mike Huckabee just got his first vote. And there was much rejoicing.

A Ron Paul supporter (one of the college kids) stood on the dais and exclaimed, “We haven’t officially declared a war since World War II and we haven’t won a war since World War II!” A guy standing next to me wearing a “Mitt Romney ’08” shirt muttered, “He must be a Dumb-o-crat.”

Mitt Romney’s ahead statewide, but so far here in Missoula Ron Paul’s the man. There’s a lot of cheering and sign-waving going on. “YEEEEEE-AAAAH!” just erupted from a knot of college students.

Final total from Missoula: Paul 45, Romney 42, McCain 7 (ouch!) and Huckabee 3. Boy that Conrad Burns…his influence really went over big in Missoula.

All the Paul supporters gathered on the dais for a group photograph. They were smiling and waving their signs. The rest of the crowd here? Not so much. There are a lot of exasperated expressions here tonight. And we’re loving every minute of it.

It looks like Mitt has won Montana. An elderly gentleman near me, after seeing the results on the overhead projection screen, just said, “Gallatin County went for Romney? I was sure all those college students would put Paul ahead.” He turned to a young guy next to him and said, “Are you a Paul supporter?” “Yes…” the youngster replied, “are you accusing me of something?” They’re now arguing over the direction of the GOP and the nation.

  1. “Kim Handy. Ms. Handy, speaking on behalf of Sen. John McCain, loudly announced”

    I wanted to be heard.

    [smooching the microphone]

    I was???

    “Will the next speakers for Mitt Romney and Ron Paul please KISS: Keep it short, stupid! We have yet to vote!”

    Please accept my humble apology for slipping and saying ‘stupid’ instead of ‘sweethearts’. My father has always said for years, “Kim Ann, you just don’t know how to tell a joke!”

    I truly respect and admire EVERYONE who was in the room last night. I was nervous, didn’t even have a vote, and was so frustrated my McCain buttons, yard signs, and bumper stickers did not arrive, as I was told they would be…

    I took my shame home with me and at 11pm last night, I sent a letter to the Editor of the Missoulian publicly apologizing. I hope it gets printed. Sincerely, Kim Handy

  2. Yeah, you made a big kissy noise. Don’t you remember?

  3. petetalbot


    I appreciate the fact that you commented here.

    Too bad about your McCain buttons, etc., not arriving in time. It seems like that is just one of the organizational missteps of his campaign in Montana. The result of which is his third place finish.


  4. jhwygirl

    KISS – Keeping it short and sweet Rebecca. Nice. ;-)

  5. by Pete Talbot and Rebecca Schmitz – I look forward to meeting you both. Sincerely, Kim Handy

  6. Hey, thanks for reading us, Kim.

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