First Thing We Do Is, We Feed All the Lawyers

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 30 2012 1:05 PM

First Thing We Do Is, We Feed All the Lawyers

TAMPA -- Time was running out if I wanted to visit Liberty Plaza before the end of the RNC. "Plaza" was an ambitious name for a parking lot ($2 per day!) transformed, temporarily, into a landing place for a cigar tent, a Breitbart.com-sponsored film tent, and an airplane hangar-sized event tent, with two weeks, and many islands of caterers. The single biggest section was given over to the National Republican Lawyers' Association, which met under a Corona-sponsored "We Built It" banner. If Mitt Romney wins, some of these people might get key administration jobs. This might explain why they were not founts of quotes and revelation.

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The presentation was loose, fueled by three tables of catered food, tubs of cold drinks, and two bartending stations. Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight committee, told the lawyers he'd need help if Mitt Romney won. "We've got to hold them to un-ring the bell," he said. "So much has been done wrong. And no one knows what has been done wrong as much as you."

Former Sen. Kit Bond ambled in next, speaking without notes to recap the fight for voter ID. "We had a little problem with vote fraud in Missouri, particularly every four years!" he said. In 1972, he worried that late-open polls in the cities would destroy his lead in a gubernatorial race. "They finally figured out they couldn't pull in enough fake votes in St. Louis city to overcome it," he said, "so they shut it down." Years later, he would use the Help America Vote Act to further the ID cause. "Bob Dole wanted to filibuster that. I said, wait a minute -- we're gonna turn chicken poop into chicken salad." But things were worse now. "With Barack Obama, little things like laws don't bother him."

After a short speech by Mitt Romney's legal adviser Ben Ginsburg, the lawyers were free to go. An Arkansas delegate eyed one of the open bars. "They said they'd be open at noon," he said. "But they're lawyers. You can't trust 'em."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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