ST. PAUL -- It is one of those moments Americans associate with political conventions -- the roll call of the states.

That is when delegates try to turn a serious event into a sales pitch for each state. One of the people running that television event for the Republican National Convention, in front of a nationwide audience, will be North Dakota's Connie Nicholas.

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Delegates on Monday's opening convention day elected officers without debate, and as the Republican National Committee secretary, Nicholas became one of three people taking the role on Wednesday night when Republicans nominate Sen. John McCain for president and Gov. Sarah Pilan for vice president.

Other North Dakota convention delegates are thrilled to have the Cando woman run the roll call. They mention her position to visitors.

"I consider it an honor for my state," she said.

Nicholas has been a Republican National Committee member 16 years. She was elected secretary to replace Sara Gearboyd, who died in June. The two were friends.

"It really is bittersweet," she said.

Fellow committee members asked her to take the job.

"It was not anything I sought," the long-time North Dakota Republican leader said.

Despite not seeking the job, she admitted: "This is exciting."

Nicholas did not expect a problem calling the roll, but she and her two colleagues will rehearse the task this morning.

"I expect it to be scripted," she said.

She did not know whether the news coverage of Hurricane Gustav will take away from the number of people watching the convention Wednesday night or whether many Americans will tune in to learn about the hurricane and get a glance of her calling roll.

With all of the notoriety Nicholas will receive, her daughters are concerned about one thing: "My girls are having a fit because I am wearing my tennis shoes."

Protesters, delegates separate

The anti-war march Monday from the Minnesota Capitol to near the Xcel Energy Center brought out on-lookers, but could not easily be seen by Republican delegates entering the arena for their national convention.

The protest route took participants near the arena, but most delegates, journalists and politicos attending the convention Monday afternoon entered through an area away from the fenced-in protest route.

Not typical

This is not the typical scripted Republican convention, where every detail is known well in advance.

When the convention ended at 5:07 p.m. Monday, party Chairman Mike Duncan said he would need to let delegates know by e-mail when to return to the Xcel Energy Center today.

After McCain called for a trimmed-down convention, due to Hurricane Gustav, on Sunday, convention officials have been scrambling to work out a new convention schedule. As of Monday night, that schedule remained in flux.

Ladies' difference

The difference between an experienced first lady and one that wants to be was obvious Monday.

Laura Bush walked out to speak to Republicans confident. Cindy McCain obviously was unsure just what to do. When the crowd was applauding the pair, for instance, she sometimes stood in place and other times applauded since she was the only one in the hall not clapping.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Jamestown Sun