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THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION | FLOOR NOTES

Business Booming for Ben

August 03, 2000|Steve Chawkins and Faye Fiore

A grizzled cowboy poet from Colorado, Omar West runs a Web site called Cowboypoetry.com and recites grizzled cowboy poetry to anyone who will listen. He hails from not-so-grizzled Aspen, but the coyotes howl there just like anywhere else.

Asked what he was doing at the convention, West said he was talking to the delegates about freedom . . . and rugged individualism . . . and wide-open spaces . . . and rustling up publicity for his Web site.

Can a guy make a living off cowboy poetry?

"Well, pardner, that's the problem," West said as he wandered into the crowd with his business cards and fliers.

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The Voice of the Convention Leaves the Twang in Texas

Political contributions can take many forms. Bill Melton donates his voice. On vacation from his job as treasurer of Dallas County, Texas, Melton is the deep-toned "Ladies and gentlemen . . . " announcer of the convention--and a 10-gallon Republican.

"I think it's appropriate in this case to help my governor be elected president," said Melton, 60, who has also announced for the Dallas Cowboys, the '96 GOP convention in San Diego and George W. Bush's two inaugural balls. Melton somehow shakes his twang when he speaks to crowds, but, one on one, his voice is deep in the heart of Texas.

"I've tried to lose that accent," he said, "but I'm proud of it at the same time."

Melton spends most of the day rehearsing in his underground sound booth, nailing his cues and pronouncing names over and over. A recent point of confusion: How does New York's governor pronounce his name? You say Pah-TOCK-ee, I say Pah-TACK-ee. . ..

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