Fully 20% of Hollywood's Republican celebrities are gathered in St. Paul, Minn., this week to officially nominate John McCain for president and to make Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin his vice presidential running mate.
Jon Voight is that 20%. (The other 80% who are out of the closet are Tom Selleck and his wife, Jillie Mack, Jerry Bruckheimer and Patricia Heaton.)
The 69-year-old Voight told The Ticket on Wednesday that he is enjoying himself immensely at the gathering, where the excitement level is still high from Friday's surprise naming of Palin as VP choice.
Voight was outspoken in his support of McCain -- "an amazing guy." He predicted the Arizona senator and former POW is going to keep the country "safe with prosperity" because he knows intimately about war and enemies and carries on his body the scars of his imprisonment and torture.
Voight called Palin "a beautiful choice" and praised "the pure simplicity of her poise and experience."
He talked about meeting McCain's 95-year-old mother, Roberta -- "tough as nails."
Obama turns convention critic
The opening acts of last week's Democratic National Convention were met with middling reviews, with even some party loyalists (such as James Carville) complaining of an unfocused message that, to their dismay, mostly passed on targeting John McCain.
Barack Obama took care of that complaint in his speech accepting the Democratic presidential nod, offering a full frontal assault on his Republican foe. And Wednesday, campaigning in Ohio, he offered his thoughts on the GOP confab in St. Paul, Minn.
Not surprisingly, his critique was thumbs down.
Tuesday night's program -- the first full one, due to the disruption caused by Hurricane Gustav -- was dominated by stirring testimonials to McCain's courage and character and included a biting attack on Obama by Fred Thompson.
Here's what caught Obama's attention, though (as well as that of others): "You did not hear a single word about the economy," he told a small gathering of supporters at a college campus in New Philadelphia, Ohio.
The Times' Noam Levey was with Obama, and he relates that the Democrat continued:
"Not once did people mention the hardships that folks are going through. Not once did they mention what are we going to do about keeping jobs here in Ohio. Not once did they mention what are we going to do about all these retirees that are losing their pensions.
"Not once did they mention how are we going to make sure Social Security is there for the next generation. The other party and John McCain don't get it. They don't get it."
Obama also zinged McCain campaign manager Rick Davis for asserting, in a videotaped interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday, that November's election would be more about personalities than issues.
"I guess I don't blame them," Obama said, recycling a line he's been using often to characterize the Republican campaign.
"Because if you don't have any issues to run on, I guess you want it to be about personality."
Excerpted from The Times' political blog Top of the Ticket, at www.latimes.com/ topoftheticket.