Jon Voight’s Political Punch

Sany0028Sunday afternoon

With all eyes fixed on Hurricane Gustav, and the list of convention cancellations rising to the likes of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, there was not a whole lot going on in the Twin Cities.

But at the Minneapolis Convention Center, there were hundreds of delegates being wined and dined at a giant reception for David Zucker’s new movie “An American Carol.” Lee Greenwood sang some of his country music standards, guests munched at finger-food buffets saluting the armed forces and others posed for pictures with such celebrities as Jon Voight, including at a photo op area where they could sit in an army Jeep and even man a machine gun.

Patriotism was everywhere, as flags were handed out to each attendee and some delegates waved them ever so carefully as “God Bless America” was sung.

Voight has been an unabashed Republican supporter since 9/11 and a vocal critic of Barack Obama. And he dismissed questions of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s experience, calling John McCain’s selection of her “impressive.”

Sany0029_2 But he seemed to relish wading through the crowd and posing for pictures — more so than many candidates I have seen. He signed autographs, slapped backs, put his arm around people’s shoulders.

You do get the impression that any star of any stripe would get such treatment.

But Tammie Nielsen, an alternate delegate who arrived yesterday with her husband, Keith, said that she was well aware of Voight’s conservative stripes.

“We have seen him get beat up on TV,” she said.

She also challenged the idea that Hollywood was dominated by Democrats.

“I think a lot of people are more conservative than they are willing to say,” she said.

The Nielsens. by the way, hail from Pasadena, Texas, and prepared their home for the hurricane before they left.

“Once we got it ready, there is nothing you can do to stop the storm,” Tammie Nielsen said.

Also spotted in the crowd: The Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition, wearing a loud print shirt with the words “California” spelled out on it.

The hundreds who gathered then went to a screening of the pic followed by a q&a with Zucker.

Voight says he will be at the convention until Wednesday or Thursday, when he is due to return to L.A. for “24.”

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