Brownwood resident served as delegate at Republican National Convention
“Governor … Governor!”
Walking across the floor of the Republican Nation Convention in Cleveland, Brownwood resident Dennis Graham called out to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — who is also Donald Trump’s running mate in this year’s presidential election.
Graham, who attended the convention as a delegate from the 11th Congressional District, was unexpectedly close to Pence as Graham walked by. Pence turned toward Graham.
“I sure would like to get a picture of the next vice president of the United States,” Graham told Pence. “And today’s my birthday.”
“Why sure,” Pence replied.
It was Wednesday night — July 20, the third day of the convention — and Graham’s 65th birthday.
Speaking at a luncheon of the Pecan Valley Republican Women’s Club luncheon last month, Graham explained the journey from precinct to county to state convention, where he was elected in a runoff to be a delegate.Improvement District board, was excited that day to say where he’d be for his 65th birthday: on the floor of the national Republican Party Convention in Cleveland.
Graham was there with his wife, Kimberly, for the speeches, the energy, the noise, the nomination of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the media throngs, the tight security, the countless photos and videos. It was also the week Graham and his wife celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary.
“The whole week was an electrifying week,” Graham said after returning to Brownwood. “It was an electrifying experience. It was something you never forget. You can’t describe it. You can’t hardly hear yourself think.
“To see it first hand and to be there on the floor … just being there was off the chart.”
Graham said he hadn’t been in Cleveland since 1979, when he was there on a business trip and also attended a major league baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers. It was the first Major League Baseball game he’d attended, and a Cleveland batter hit a grand slam home run.
“This is, by far, a much bigger grand slam than the one I saw in 1979,” Graham said. “No comparison.”
Graham said he’s a Trump supporter, but he honored a pledge as a delegate to vote for Sen. Ted Cruz during the nomination process.
Graham didn’t get close to Trump at the convention, but he came within a few feet of him at a Trump rally in Wisconsin, where Graham traveled on a business trip.
“When he speaks to a group of people, the entire room is hanging on every word,” Graham said. “He’s probably the best communicator I’ve seen since Ronald Reagan in moving people forward.”
Graham acknowledged that Trump has “said a few things that made us step back a little bit,” but said Trump’s controversial statements haven’t caused him to stop supporting Trump. “Not when I look at the entire candidate,” Graham said. “He’s not a racist or sexist. He’s not against Muslims. He’s against radical Muslims. He’s against terrorists, no matter what religion they are.”
When Graham called out to Pence on the convention floor, Pence walked over and took Graham’s cell phone. Pence shook Graham’s hand and wished him happy birthday, and held up the phone for a selfie of the two.
Graham gingerly slipped his arm around Pence’s shoulders, moving cautiously because he didn’t want to upset the Secret Service agents who were a few feet away.
“He took my photo,” Graham said. “It was just a lucky moment for me. You talk about making a moment in your life you’ll remember. What a birthday present that was.”
Graham actually has two photos from his brief meeting with Pence. One photo is the one Pence took with Graham’s cell phone. The other photo shows Pence actually holding the phone. That photo is from a screen grab someone took of an ABC news video, which someone sent to Graham.
“I just thought ‘gee whiz. Is anybody going to believe this?’” Graham said.
Graham said then that he still remembers July 20, 1969. It was the day Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon, and Graham watched the live, grainy television images.
Graham, a businessman who is a member of the Brown County Water