PHILADELPHIA – Christine Davies looks the part of a Republican National Convention page in her blue blazer, ironed khaki skirt, white shirt and brown formal shoes. Convention organizers wanted her to look just so.
But as the five-day event wore on, the organizers realized it didn’t matter what shoes pages wore because television cameras didn’t show them.
A subtle change, but one of several that meant chaos in the life of a convention page.
The page’s job “is basically to be here and help out whenever you are needed,” said fellow page Bob Adney. “The delegates know to look for you if they have questions.”
Pages get the most coveted items at the convention-floor passes that permit unrestricted access to the convention floor. Once there, they get a coveted prime view of the speaker’s podium.
Davies got to see speakers Laura Bush, wife of presumptive nominee Gov. George W. Bush, and former Gen. Colin Powell up close.
But floor access isn’t always glorious. It also means pages are within earshot of delegates to help with any problems.
It sounds simple, but it’s not, said Davies.
The page program is a logistical nightmare. Getting youthful crowd to move in one direction or to execute duties together is nearly impossible. Try fitting hundreds of youth through three turnstiles in the Philadelphia subway station, Davies said. It takes hours to get on the train.
“It’s a little disorganized,” she said. “We don’t know what we are doing before we do it.”
In between the going to and from places, the pages are inundated with speakers and pep rallies. “Some of it’s good and some of it’s crap,” said Davies.
But even the worst of it has a central message – getting the youth to become the Republican leaders of the future.
Davies’ potential was recognized by Ellen Sauerbrey, Maryland Republican Party national committeewoman and two-time gubernatorial candidate. Sauerbrey appointed Davies after Sandy Brock, a convention delegate and wife of former Tennessee Sen. Bill Brock, recommended her.
“I met Christine and I was thoroughly impressed by her energy and enthusiasm,” said Sauerbrey. “So, when she asked me appoint her as a page, Sandy Brock and I thought she was a natural.”
“They tried to reward people who were doing a lot of work on the campaign,” said Adney. Davies deserved to be rewarded, he said, because “she’s been very, very visible on campus and a lot more young people have gotten involved. She’s really making a difference.”
Davies is student coordinator of Maryland’s Youth Team 2000 and second vice chairman of the state’s College Republicans.
The pages of today are the members of Congress of the future.
Walter Hayes, a Baltimore County resident and page chaperone, knows the truth of the youth farm club. He has been lauding one 20-something page from Wisconsin.
“He’s running for office. He’s our big candidate,” Hayes consistently repeated.
Davies is unsure if she will ever run for office.
“She has to have a little more patience” to be a candidate, Hayes said. Yet, he said she is certainly enthusiastic enough.
Grassroots organizing seems to be her future, though.
“I started [helping campaigns by] blowing up balloons at a county fair and now I am figuring out how to recruit people nationally,” she said.
– 30 – CNS-08-02-00