San Diego’s 1996 GOP elephant gets encore -
By: Christopher Cadelago with the San Diego Union-Tribune
"In 1996, the Republican National Convention in San Diego was replete with thousands of elephants. The venerable symbol of the GOP was stamped on commemorative ties, splashed across bottles of Baja Brewing Co.’s Elephant Ale and perched atop the Embassy Suites Hotel.
One of the elephants — a red, white and blue statue recently purchased from a local art collector for an undisclosed amount — is set to make the 2,450-mile journey to Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention, Aug. 27-30.
On Friday, a team from Craters & Freighters in Lemon Grove plans to load the 7-foot-long by 6-foot-high by 4-foot-wide elephant onto a truck bound for Florida where it will be displayed in the Outdoor Arts Foundation’s community art project.
The “Herd about Tampa Bay” collaboration with the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee will feature several 4-foot by 4-foot fiberglass elephants painted by local artists and sponsored by area businesses, said Jay Goulde, executive director for the Outdoor Arts Foundation.
The San Diego elephant will be displayed in the lobby of the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina — a stone’s throw from the Tampa Bay Times Forum where delegates from across the country will gather to hear Mitt Romney accept the party’s presidential nomination.
Among the local delegates named by the campaign to represent the region are Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista; state Sen. Mark Wyland, R-Solana Beach; former Assemblyman Bruce Thompson; Romney finance co-chairman Kelly Burt; San Diego County Government Affairs Director Geoff Patnoe; Briana Bilbray, daughter of Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-San Diego; and San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.
Other delegates from the Golden State are former Gov. Pete Wilson, House majority whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, the chief executive of Hewlett Packard, and Craig Romney, a son of the former Massachusetts governor.
As for the elephant, Goulde said he found it online and knew it would be perfect to display as the exhibit’s signature piece. The foundation participated in three previous projects involving fiberglass animals, including Loggerhead sea turtles, West Indian manatees and tarpon.
That the elephant statue will be displayed at its second national party confab made the group’s latest purchase that much sweeter, Goulde said.
“When I saw it I had to jump on it,” he said.
Chris Ingram, a Republican political consultant and blogger in Tampa, said he attended the ’96 convention as a delegate from Georgia. After seeing a photo of the elephant, he said he was almost certain he remembers seeing it in ‘96, possibly on one of many red carpets.
“I am 99 percent sure I remember seeing it out there,” he said by telephone.
This isn’t the first prominent elephant from the convention. In addition to those featured on brooches, beers and costumes, the logo from the front of 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole’s podium — a 2-foot-wide memento showing an elephant — was rescued by a local photographer as workers dismantled the set. Its makers were forced to present Dole with a replica because they couldn’t locate the original.
While some seem to remember the traveling elephant statue from the ’96 convention, other attendees said it failed to make a lasting impression. One joked that, regrettably, he doesn’t have the memory of an elephant."
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