Living large in New York City

By Tim Grieve
Published August 11, 2004 1:52PM (EDT)

For all the right's trash-talking about John Kerry's wealth -- all that stuff about how a rich guy can't possibly understand the problems of "real" Americans -- you'd think the Bush-Cheney folks would be trying hard to come off like the pork-rind-eatin', cloth-coat-wearin' Republicans of the past.

Some of them are, of course. The president will surely find more time between now and Nov. 2 to beef up his common man cred by clearing brush at his Crawford ranch, where the millionaire Yalie is, a little improbably, said to enjoy having friends "come over, sit on the couch, and eat hamburgers and beans with their shoes off."

But not all Republicans are following the sit-below-the-salt script. The GOP convention begins Aug. 30 in New York, and the party is preparing to make sure that its highest rollers are welcomed in the style to which they're accustomed. The party's top donors can log on to a special Website to choose the events they'd like to attend in New York. For members of the RNC's Team 100, the list includes cocktails and a dinner reception at Le Cirque and a daily hospitality suite at the Four Seasons. Rangers -- those who raise at least $200,000 for Bush -- get dinner at the Lincoln Center, a hospitality suite at the Ritz Carlton, and a luncheon honoring Johnny Cash but featuring Larry Gatlin.

And all of the big-money players get to choose from a menu of upper-crust optional activities. There's a $350 round of golf at Trump National Golf Club in Westchester and a $175 brunch and fashion show at Barneys, where "the gift bag alone will be the talk of the convention." And while President Bush has been known to sneer about folks "swilling white wine" in Martha's Vineyard and enjoying "brie and cheese" in California, that doesn't mean the RNC can't offer its guests a $125-per-person wine and cheese tasting. Patriots will be pleased to hear that the wine is domestic. The "artisan-produced food" is imported however, and there's speaker who is identified as a maitre fromager.

We can't be sure, but we think that's French.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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