10:15 a.m. “Convention Politics and the Fall Elections” returns as the second panel this morning at the Humphrey Institute’s series of forums entitled, America’s Future: Conversations about Politics and Policy during the 2008 Republican National Convention. The discussion is moderated by Lawrence Jacobs (Director, Center for the Study of Poltiics and Governance, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota). The panelists are:

* Norman Ornstein (Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute)
* Stuart Rothenberg (Editor and Publisher, The Rothenberg Political Report)
* Vin Weber (Chairman, National Endowment for Democracy and Partner, Clark and Weinstock)

10:23 a.m. The panel is talking about Sarah Palin – her selection and RNC speech. Ornstein says Tim Pawlenty was vetted quite thoroughly — he was “given the full body cavity search” while Palin was “allowed to walk around the metal detector.” Ornstein says McCain has now energized the base with the Palin selection; he needed to do this because McCain was someone originally supported by just about 12 percent of the GOP last year.

10:25 a.m. Palin’s position on abortion, creationism, and sex education differ from that of McCain, Ornstein says.

10:28 a.m. Weber says people who know Palin and have worked with her says she is an impressive person to work with. That said, Weber believes if you look at her resume she is short on qualifications. Weber believe Palin can connect with an audience even with those who may not agree with her on the issues.

10:33 a.m. Rothenberg says the Republican Party will be punished ‘down ballot’ in the 2008 election, but the ‘McCain brand’ is more popular than the ‘Republican brand’ and therefore he is running a tight race with Obama.

10:36 a.m. Rothenberg was on the floor last night and says everyone, including moderate Republicans, were electrified by Palin.

10:45 a.m. Ornstein says the McCain campaign is going to quarantine Palin, having her give speeches and talk to local press, but not the national press (and that she will go before Sean Hannity long before she talks to Tom Brokaw).

10:51 a.m. Rothenberg says the types of groups McCain needs to draw into his camp to win the election are: the 2004 Bush coalition, the old white working class Democratic constituency (former Reagan Democrats), older voters, and military voters. Rothenberg says Palin is not going to attract Hillary voters and if he does attract some women it will be older, married women who tend to vote Republican anyway.

10:58 a.m. Ornstein says it will remain a 4 or 5 point race until the debates.

11:10 a.m. Rothenberg says there will be a 10-15 seat gain for the Democrats in this election in the U.S. House and 5-6 seats in the Senate. He says it all has to do with the Republican brand and disastisfaction with Bush.

11:15 a.m. Regarding the Minnesota U.S. Senate race, Rothenberg calls it a toss-up, with a slight edge to Coleman. Weber thinks Coleman is going to win, but not by a large margin. Both agree that Franken’s high negatives will be difficult to overcome.

11:17 a.m. Weber does not see much impact by third parties in the 2008 presidential race, though if Ron Paul had launched a third party campaign, that would have been another story. Weber says “Ron Paul believes things that Republicans want to believe, but can’t.”