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Capital News: Altered mental state didn't make this election any more understandable

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published: July 27, 2016 12:00 AM

Cleveland -- There was this one time, when I was in college, when the Doors finally made sense to me.

I'm not a fan of the psychedelic rock band, but I remember heading back to my central Indiana campus in the middle of the night, after visiting my then-girlfriend (and now-wife) in her Ohio hometown.

I hadn't had much sleep, which didn't really affect my driving abilities but did alter my mental state.

That's when "Light My Fire" came on the radio. Midway through, I gained a new understanding of the instrumentals and words in a way that I assume can only otherwise be reached through the use of some mind-altering substance. (Not that I would know, since I don't partake of such things, legal or otherwise.)

There I was, moving rapidly (but within the posted speed limit) down Interstate 69 south of Fort Wayne, windows down, shouting, "Yeah! I get it now!" at the top of my lungs.

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I can't remember much about my Doors epiphany, because I haven't heard the tune in that sort of over-tired state since then.

But I imagine I must have reached a similar level of consciousness after spending five days and nights covering the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

I was up by 5 each morning -- had to share a bathroom and shower with other reporters and catch a bus to the Ohio delegation breakfast by 6:30 each day. And I wasn't back in bed until after midnight each night, sometimes later.

By the end of the week, my mind was mush, setting the stage for Doors-like revelation.

But that didn't happen, and this crazy election season still makes no sense to me.

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To recap: Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, despite what many would consider near-daily campaign missteps -- chatter in recent days about plagiarism of a Michelle Obama speech (of all sources) by his wife comes immediately to mind.

Speakers in Cleveland last week were more apt to slam the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, than they were to tout Trump's plans. At times, Republicans wouldn't even mention Trump's name, and yet the GOP is trying to unify behind their candidate and gain some momentum and excitement heading toward November.

Ohio delegates I spoke to are on board, though they were in Cleveland to support Gov. John Kasich. They're ready to back Trump, but they often sat on their hands during the convention instead of joining in the cheering and affirmation.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the target of chiding and insults from Trump during the primary campaign, agreed to speak during the convention, then proceeded to focus on bigger-picture issues rather than praising the billionaire businessman directly. Hearing delegates subsequently interrupt him with chants of "Endorse Him! Endorse Him!" and then booing Cruz and his wife out of the arena was surreal.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich took a higher road, refraining from participating in the convention and avoiding any comparable spectacle, but he did make appearances around the city, with a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reception that foreshadowed a 2020 presidential run.

Looking back, I have muddled visions of Trump in his helicopter, delegates in cowboy hats, a former (and popular and talented) Saturday Night Live house band guitarist jamming, angry people shouting to put Clinton in jail, $10 meatball sandwiches and an usher holding a small white dog.

What does it all mean? Beats the heck out of me.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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