Introduction to Republican
National Convention    
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By Carla Bender

(Written prior to the convention)

[AUG. 31, 2004]  The Republican National Convention is being held at Madison Square Garden in New York City Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

Illinois has 73 delegates and 70 alternate delegates. Of this total, 60 delegates and alternate delegates were elected in the March primary. The alternates, of course, will serve in the event a delegate is ill or unable to fulfill his or her duties. The number of delegates for the congressional district is determined based on population and Republican votes cast in the last primary in each of Illinois' 19 congressional districts.

I was elected in the 18th Congressional District, which is made up of 18 counties, or parts of counties, in central Illinois, including Logan, Peoria, Adams, Mason, Menard, Tazewell and part of Sangamon, among others.

The remaining 13 delegates who were not elected are at-large delegates appointed by the Republican National Committee. Some at-large delegates for this convention are former Govs. Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson and State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka. Others are long-serving members of the state Republican Party or former statewide elected officials.

In years past the national conventions held by the two major American political parties were instrumental in the process of determining who the party's nominee would ultimately be. In past decades there were spirited debates by members of the same party at the convention. Supported by factions of their party, they attempted to convince the state delegates to vote for their candidacy rather than the other guy (it was literally always the other “guy” in those days). Often the nominee came out of the convention fresh from an internal battle in his own party.

As the spring primaries have evolved over the years to take over the presidential nomination process, the conventions themselves have become less a factor in who the nominee will be. Today the primary process has taken place by midsummer and the choice for the nominee is obvious. The convention simply makes it official as each state delegation votes for the candidate who won in the primaries. The conventions have gradually become more of an opportunity for each party, through their nominee, to highlight their leadership plans, platforms and vision for the next four years if their candidate wins the presidency of the United States. 


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I look forward to the excitement of the convention and the opportunity to be a part of the process and witness the historic speech President Bush will give on Thursday night, Sept. 2, for his vision for our nation in the next four years. It will be my first experience as a delegate to a national convention and I am not sure what to expect, but I know it will be exciting to personally witness a historic event and represent my state.

The National Republican Committee officials and staff have briefed us regularly on the planning and preparation for this enormous event. Much has been made in the media of the security issues surrounding the convention and what precautions are being taken to keep the city safe. The Illinois delegation happens to be staying in the same hotel as the Secret Service. That fact alone is reassuring to us.

The conventions, both Democratic and Republican, were designated as special Secret Service events, and therefore the Secret Service will be in charge of security and will be supported and assisted by 10,000 of the 50,000 New York City Police Department officers. All of the security measures that can be taken are being taken, and I anticipate very tight security throughout the city, particularly in the Midtown area near Madison Square Garden. We have already been told that only delegates with credentials will be allowed into Madison Square Garden. No guests or other nonofficial personnel will be allowed entry. This heightened security effort may make for long lines and a lot of waiting, but this is unavoidable and a welcome assurance to many that safety and security are paramount.

I will be apprising Logan County and the citizens of the 18th Congressional District of Illinois, who sent me to the convention, on the happenings daily.

[Carla Bender, 18th Congressional District delegate]

Republican National Convention, Day 3

By Carla Bender          Send a link to a friend

[SEPT. 2, 2004] 

Wednesday, Sept. 1

Republican National Convention

New York City, N.Y.

Wednesday of the Republican National Convention was, yet again, a full day of activities. The evening session began with the official roll call of the states. State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, state Republican Party chairwoman, announced Illinois' 73 electoral votes to nominate George W. Bush as the Republican candidate for president of the United States. The roll was called and the nomination was unanimous and official. We, the delegates, along with millions of other Americans, wait in anxious anticipation of the president's acceptance speech Thursday night.

A beautiful and fitting tribute to President Ronald Reagan took place with his son, Michael Reagan, speaking proudly about his father and the legacy of President Reagan.

In a welcome and unsolicited departure from his own party, U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., told the nation that he intends to cross party lines to vote for George W. Bush. Sen. Miller has a reputation for being somewhat of a rebel and demonstrating a streak of independence. He certainly made his intentions clear tonight by enumerating the weaknesses he sees in a potential Kerry presidency and emphasizing why he believes George Bush is a stronger leader and a better choice for America. He reminded us that as Sen. Kerry voted to weaken our military, President Bush asked Congress for the tools it would take to fight a war on terrorism. Miller passionately appealed to the nation, telling us that this election will change the course of history. The alternatives are set squarely before the American people. On Election Day we will know the path our nation will follow and what course America's role in the world will take.

A confident and self-assured Mrs. Lynne Cheney introduced her husband with a testament to the man she knows and the many reasons she believes in him. She encouraged Americans to believe in him and his commitment to serving this country as vice president.


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In his 33-minute address, the vice president talked about this administration's economic and domestic policies and the economic successes he believes have contributed to the recovery from the recession that was initiated by the Sept. 11 attacks on America.

In his remarks concerning the war on terrorism, he told us that George W. Bush "will never seek a permission slip" to defend the American people. This was in the context of contrasting John Kerry's record on the war on terrorism, pointing out that in the U.S. Senate, Kerry voted against funding for our troops in the war on terrorism and has been weak on national defense in the Senate.

The vice president described George W. Bush as a man of great personal strength but a man with a heart for the weak, the vulnerable and the afflicted. He described the minutes and days after the tragedy of 9/11 and said President Bush led our nation through that crisis with honor, courage and an uncommon strength.

Vice President Cheney ended his address by telling the American people that President Bush understands the miracle of this country and knows the hope and promise that drives our citizens. He predicted that when this convention concludes we will go forth with confidence in our cause by leaving no doubt where we stand and leading our cause to victory.

* * *

Thursday night's schedule includes New York Gov. George Pataki introducing President George Bush to give a historic nomination acceptance speech.

[Carla Bender, 18th Congressional District delegate]

Other postings

Republican National Convention agenda   Send a link to a friend

[AUG. 31, 2004] 

Monday, Aug. 30


  • Mayor Michael Bloomberg
  • Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani
  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Tuesday, Aug. 31

In keeping with President Bush's call to service, the Illinois delegation has organized and will participate in service projects while in New York. This service initiative presents a great opportunity to show our delegation's commitment to answer President Bush's call to community service and share with people across the country our party's positive, compassionate message during this historic week.

The Illinois delegates will paint two large rooms in the cafeteria of the Boys & Girls Harbor Youth Center and school in Harlem, paint an activity room at the Salvation Army Williams Memorial Residence, and will be gathering donations for the Bowery Mission, the third oldest gospel mission in the United States meeting the critical physical needs of New York City's homeless. We will also be participating in blood drive on Sunday and Monday at the New York Blood Center, which is experiencing a critical shortage of blood.


  • Laura Bush, first lady
  • Secretary of Education Rod Paige
  • California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Wednesday, Sept. 1


  • Mrs. Lynne Cheney
  • Vice President Dick Cheney
  • Sen. Zell Miller, D-Georgia

Thursday, Sept. 2


  • New York Gov. George Pataki
  • President George W. Bush

[Provided by Carla Bender,
18th Congressional District delegate]

Carla Bender bio     Send a link to a friend

[AUG. 31, 2004] 

Carla BenderCarla Bender, a native of Logan County, was elected clerk of the Circuit Court in 1992. She is currently in her third term as Circuit Court clerk, having been re-elected to this office in 1996 and 2000. Previously she served as a juvenile probation officer, field manager for the Court Services Division of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts and as a researcher for a U.S. Department of Justice project examining the issue of missing and abducted children. She is also a member of the part-time faculty at Lincoln College.

A graduate of Lincoln College and the University of Illinois at Springfield, she holds a bachelor's degree in legal studies. She is presently pursuing a master's degree in communication at the University of Illinois. In 1996 she was among 15 Illinois women to be selected to receive a fellowship from the Illinois Lincoln Excellence in Public Service Series Inc., a nonprofit Republican educational foundation.

She is past president of the Illinois Association of Circuit Court Clerks and serves as vice president on the board of the Illinois Association of County Officials. As a community volunteer, she has served as president of the Lincoln Area YMCA board of directors, as a volunteer for the local chapter of United Way and as a group fitness instructor at the Lincoln Park District. She is a recipient of the Key Leaders Award for Outstanding Volunteerism from the YMCA of the USA, Illini Cluster.


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She has been politically active for over 20 years. She has volunteered on the campaigns of Republican candidates at every level of government, including the campaigns for George Bush Sr., Bob Dole and George W. Bush. She has participated in and directed the activities of various state candidates and many local campaigns, including her own. In 1992, her first time on the ballot, she defeated a four-term incumbent Democrat to win her first election as clerk of the Circuit Court. Beginning in 1993 she served as campaign manager for state Rep. John Turner during his four terms in the Illinois General Assembly until he was appointed Appellate Court justice in 2001. She was elected in the 18th Congressional District as a delegate to the National Republican Convention in 2004. She currently serves as the Logan County coordinator for U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood.

She lives in Lincoln with her husband of 16 years, Dave, and children Alex and Jeris.

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