Monica's World: Fashioning Support for Cindy McCain at the Republican National Convention

August 12 2008, 1:50 PM

Monica Owens, the daughter of former Governor Bill Owens, is just "a little sick of" all the attention surrounding the Democratic National Convention. After all, like her dad, she's a member of the Grand Old Party, and while Denver certainly deserves its turn in the national spotlight, she wishes the Republican National Convention was coming to town instead. So Monica will travel to Minnesota, as the convention here ends, to work and mingle as one of 22 Colorado delegates chosen to ensure that John McCain is officially nominated her party's presidential candidate. Once there, her eyes will scour the room for McCain's wife--Cindy Hensley McCain. About two weeks ago, the 25-year-old Owens was in Denver acting as an airport greeter, prior to an exclusive fundraiser, when she met Mrs. McCain. The two chatted not about policy--although Monica predictably sides with John McCain's view that the troops in Iraq should stay "until the job is done"--but instead about glittering political pins, which are all the rage in certain Republican circles. Monica, a Colorado State University graduate who is now studying at the University of Denver for a certificate in homeland security, then sat down with her own first-lady mom, Frances Owens, to pen a guest commentary for The Denver Post, arguing that Mrs. McCain could be the next Jackie Kennedy (party allegiances notwithstanding).

"Cindy has dedicated her life to improving the lives of the less fortunate, both in the United States and around the world," the Owens ladies wrote. "Yet despite her humanitarian background, little media attention has been given to Mrs. McCain." The commentary, titled "Cindy McCain is Perfect for First Lady," also noted a certain, indescribable "sophisticated presence," perhaps the phrase that led Westword's media watcher, Michael Roberts, to chide the Post for running such puffery, opining it was a poor use of newspaper space in tight times. But Roberts could have just as easily argued that Mrs. McCain needs all the help she can get in what is shaping up to be a battle to become the most down-to-earth-but-captivating first lady. As Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton disappeared from the national spotlight after causing what the proposed Democratic platform describes as "18 million cracks in the highest glass ceiling," so it seems it matters all the more that Democratic wife Michelle Obama is considered homey but alluring, especially after being named to Vanity Fair's International Best Dressed List (Cindy McCain was not). John Harwood, a veteran of the Wall Street Journal and co-author of Pennsylvania Avenue, Profiles in Backroom Power, recently noted on CNBC that "Cindy McCain looks a little bit more exotic'' than Michelle Obama. And while John McCain's wife is "richer,'' Mrs. Obama's two young children give her a "bit more of the average housewife look." Advantage: Mrs. Obama. Indeed, stylist Mary Alice Stephenson tells the Evansville Courier & Press that fashion is very much part of the presidential race and that first ladies need near-supernatural powers, such as "channeling Jackie O." Both wives, by the way, "wear streamlined clothing with pearls." Meanwhile Monica, who, like her father, initially backed Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, now hopes John McCain will select Romney to be his vice president as she looks forward to being in Minneapolis-St. Paul, where it "sounds like they have some good parties and music set up." Though several Republicans won't be going, including Colorado Senate hopeful Bob Schaffer, according to National Journal's Congress Daily, Monica doesn't see a conspiracy: "Not everybody's going to be coming from every state to the Democratic National Convention." And Monica, who works for political consulting firm Phase Line Strategies, notes that rumors fly fast. After all, speculation surrounded the attendance of Vice President Dick Cheney's, whom Monica worked for as a scheduler. Cheney has since been confirmed as an RNC speaker, according to several news sources, including The Chicago Tribune's Washington blog, The Swamp. Once at the RNC, perhaps Monica will again speak with Cindy McCain. If their meeting at the Denver airport was any indication, the young Owens will be bowled over. "My first impression," Monica says of Mrs. McCain, "was: dressed really cute."

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