There was electricity in the room set up at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City for the Republican Party of Virginia's presidential straw poll. Much of that electricity was generated by the youthful and exuberant Ron Paul supporters, who constituted more than a third of the political activists attending the event.
Still, a good deal of electricity was put forth by the speakers who preceded the vote. I was able to capture a few of the speakers on video but not, unfortunately, all of them, because I had limited tape and a limited charge (speaking of electricity) on my camera.
The first speaker was former Governor Jim Gilmore, who set out a strategy for party unity to undergird is campaign against former Governor Mark Warner for the U.S. Senate in 2008:
Next up was Delegate Chris Saxman of Staunton, who had been toying with the idea of challenging Gilmore for the Senate nomination next year. In his speech, Saxman announced that has chosen not to pursue higher office, either in 2008 or 2009:
(Saxman also later spoke on behalf of his favored presidential candidate, Senator John McCain.)
After the "Senate" speeches were out of the way, a series of surrogate speakers for the presidential candidates took to the platform. (One "candidate" was there representing himself, Hugh Cort, whose strange remarks were greeted with indifference, if not outright hostility, by a crowd waiting to hear from the real campaigns.)
Although he was in the middle of the agenda, the first surrogate speech I recorded was that of Northern Virginia attorney Chris Kachouroff, who spoke on behalf of Dr. Ron Paul in passages that echoed Barry Goldwater's classic book, The Conscience of a Conservative:
Kachouroff was followed a few minutes later by former Senator George Allen, who spoke on behalf of his erstwhile colleague, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, with an uncharacteristically wordless Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell at his side:
The last speaker of the hour was former Treasurer of the United States Bay Buchanan, who spoke on behalf of Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo:
Unfortunately, Buchanan's well-delivered speech delivered only four votes for the anti-immigration legislator; Tancredo would have come in last were it not for the zero votes cast for Hugh Cort and for John Cox, who was not represented at the straw poll despite his name being on the ballot.
Finally, state Republican party chairman John Hager (former Virginia Lieutenant Governor and future in-law of George and Laura Bush) announced the results. (His brief announcement is preceded in this video by a few scenes of people queuing up to vote, and a middle-school choir singing patriotic songs.)
When all was said and done, Ron Paul emerged the clear victor in the straw poll: