Swag, Comfortable Shoes, and Water Are Critical to Convention Success

August 29, 2012

AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz will report from the Republican National Convention this week and from the Democratic National Convention next week. Follow her updates at AAUW Dialog, on Facebook, and @LisaMaatz on Twitter.

It’s day three — well, officially day two — at the Republican National Convention, and your intrepid policy director is getting the lay of the land. Making the most of these affairs is really an art form, and you need to play your cards right. Here are some tips that any political party animal should heed:

1)      Wear your credentials everywhere you go. Woe to the delegate or convention-goer who disregards this axiom. Security is tight and completely unforgiving of any human frailty — especially forgetfulness. You’ll need these cards, typically worn on a lanyard around your neck, to get into just about everything. You can’t even get inside the perimeter around the convention hall without them. No credentials? No CNN Grill for you!

2)      Talk to random strangers. I know our moms told us not to, but in this case it’s encouraged and occasionally rewarded. Why? Because these folks may have the inside scoop on some convention shortcut, event, party, or brouhaha that hasn’t made it onto your radar. They may even have tickets to share or trade. See tip 3.

3)      Bring stuff to trade, and stock up on swag throughout the convention. Snarky buttons are great. Enameled pins are favorites, too. In Tampa, Florida’s sweltering, Amazon-like humidity, the hand fan is serious currency. I picked up several at Political Parity’s Unconventional Women event on Tuesday, and I’m thinking I should have collected a bigger supply. I grabbed some cool pedometers, but they aren’t cutting it. I suppose the number of steps conventioneers walk is too depressing. Who needs the reminder? See tip 4.

4)      Wear comfortable shoes. Seriously. The spiked skyscraper heel just doesn’t work, and the stacked platform is not much better. This is just common sense, but you’d be surprised how many women I see hobbling — and hear complaining — about poorly chosen footwear. I should note that men seem largely unsympathetic to this plight.

5)      Avoid the convention buses. They take forever to load up and leave, and the bus drivers get lost a lot. Why? They need so many buses that they have to bring in ringers from out of town. You’re much better off getting a car, parking as close as you can, and resigning yourself to walking — a lot. Review tip 4.

6)      Arrive early at the convention hall to get the best seating. I’m impressed that the RNC supplied credentials that have section assignments. That helps, but there are still choice seats in any section that fill up fast. Bring reading material.

7)      Eat before you go into the convention hall unless you’re OK with dry chicken fingers and soggy fries for the bargain price of $12. Once inside the hall, make a beeline for the concession stand to stock up on water, because once you sit down, it’s tough to get up later without losing your hard-won seat.

8)      I know there are more tips, but I’m fresh out of fuel. In fact, that is the last tip. Pace yourself. Make a schedule. Prioritize events. But be flexible — you never know what cool convention experience is coming your way!

Lisa Maatz By:   |   August 29, 2012


  1. Roberta Guise (@RobertaGuise) says:

    Bonus tip: Spot locations of women’s bathrooms. With all that water drinking and hanging humidity, a convention woman can never allow herself to lose sight of the closest loo.

  2. ann terry says:

    Love your messages – make me feel as if I am right there n
    beside you. Can’t wait to see you in Charlotte!

  3. advocatepat says:

    Way to go, Lisa! A woman in the know can go many places. It would be interesting to hear how some women participants view the party platform.

    • lisamaatz lisamaatz says:

      Thanks to both Ann and Patricia for their kind words about my cub reporting. As to your question, Patricia, I’d say the women at this convention are divided. Half are unhappy with the platform, and the other half think its being used as a distraction and/or agree with it. The moderate women here are deeply frustrated, that’s for sure.

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