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Convention was exciting, local man says

From the time BJ Van Gundy arrived in Minneapolis at the Republican National Convention, the mood was electric, he said.

Just days after GOP presidential nominee John McCain tapped Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, Van Gundy said party stalwarts were ready to celebrate.

"She's really energized everyone here," Van Gundy said Friday as he packed up after the convention. "It ratcheted up the excitement level about 20 times."

Van Gundy, the chairman of the GOP's 7th District, led a delegation of six Gwinnettians to the convention.

He said Palin's speech Wednesday was the highlight of the event, and McCain's speech Thursday was a great way to begin the November campaign.

"I think these people came away from this convention unified and all fired up," he said. "It was great to have all of our leadership 1,000 percent behind our candidate, which is a stark contrast to the Democrats, who are still fractured."

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who is seeking re-election in November, said he enjoyed the event as well.

He said his reaction to her speech was, "Wow, what a woman!"

"She is a tough lady and she has exceeded every expectation anyone had of her," Chambliss said. "She has handled criticism of herself and her family as any mother would - with grace, poise and humor. She is an experienced leader who has stood up to the establishment to bring about real change for the people of Alaska. She will draw upon those same skills and principals as she helps John McCain bring reform to Washington to move our country forward.

Chambliss called McCain a "hero" and said he would be a "strong commander-in-chief."

"The contrast between old Washington insiders and empty rhetoric and these two maverick reformers has been made plain," he said. "As John McCain and Sarah Palin took the stage in St. Paul, closing out the 2008 Republican National Convention, you could feel the energy and excitement about their leadership and the future of our country."

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.