- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

About 30 Virginia Republicans yesterday waited several hours at Alexandria’s Union Station to board a train to the national convention in New York City while Amtrak workers repaired tracks near Fredericksburg.

Most of the convention delegates and their guests resigned themselves to the more-than-three-hour delay, opting to swap stories of past conventions, share information about upcoming parties and even do a little campaigning.

“You’ve just gotta roll with the punches,” said Steve Hunt, a delegate’s guest and a school board member for Fairfax County public schools. “How often do you get a day to sit back and enjoy the afternoon?”

Others were less patient. Several hired cabs to the District’s Union Station, and two went to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to catch a flight to New York. Some joked about placing bets on who would arrive first in Manhattan.

Amtrak passengers finally arrived in New York at 9:30 p.m.

Among the delegates waiting for the train was Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte of Roanoke, the highest-ranking official on board.

Mr. Goodlatte passed time chatting with constituents and meeting 8th Congressional District hopeful Lisa Marie Cheney, who is challenging Rep. James P. Moran, Alexandria Democrat. She is not related to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Other delegates spent much of their time praising President Bush.

“My wife was able to stay home for two years because of the Bush tax cut,” said Jim Riley, 35, of Dumfries. He is an alternate delegate and a lobbyist for the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.

Kamal Nawash, a Palestinian from Falls Church, is an alternate delegate who supports the president because of the war on terrorism.

He noted that many Muslim groups oppose Mr. Bush’s policies, but he wants the president to know he has some Muslim votes.

“We want to see family values, not a pop culture where anything goes,” said Mr. Nawash, who runs the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism. “All we have is the president right now to fight extremism. We are afraid of [Democratic nominee Sen. John] Kerry.”

Alternate delegate H. “Buzz” Hawley of Fairfax said he is glad centrists such as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will speak at the convention, even though he is more attuned to Mr. Bush’s conservative agenda.

“They will bring new people into the party and attract new Republican voters,” said Mr. Hawley, 34.

Judi Lynch, 38, is attending her first convention — and came in uniform.

Donning a cowboy hat with a Bush-Cheney sticker and a button that reads “Re-elect Bush ‘04 — Kerry is scary,” Miss Lynch found common ground with fellow alternates yesterday.

“To me, this is history in the making,” the Christiansburg resident said. “We are a part of history.”

Virginia’s delegations are getting used to train delays: In 2000, delegates to the convention in Philadelphia were stranded on the train for nearly two hours on the way home, during a lightning storm.


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