The GOP's getting pretty edgy with its Convention plans this year, setting up shop among the hobos and flaming liberals of downtown Los Angeles (albeit at the least edgy, most “manhattanized” location in L.A.). On top of that, for the first time, the Republicans have invited both Latino and Asian leaders to host minority-friendly “workshops” during the three-day event.

Twenty-first century, here we come! California GOP spokesman Mark Standriff says it's all part of a new push to diversify the party. “We need to get outside our comfort zone and talk to people we haven't talked to,” he says. Among the roughly 1,000 attendees expected to swarm L.A. Live on all of Friday, Saturday and Sunday…

… are people's favorite Michele Bachman, who speaks tonight; and Ron Paul, Thaddeus McCotter and Fred Karger, who take the stage tomorrow.

Come for Bachmann, stay for Fred Karger.

Come for Bachmann, stay for Fred Karger.

Yes, you heard right: Fred Karger, the same gay Republican who has been raising hell about his own party allegedly not letting him speak this weekend.

Spokesman Standriff now says, exasperated, that the whole thing was a big misunderstanding. “The frustrating thing was, [Karger] never was not part of that communication,” he says. “We worked things out with Fred and we're glad to have him here.”

Amusingly, though, he's billed as an “activist,” according to City News Service.

Says Standriff of the GOP's accepting new ways: “At the end of the day, if people want to come to our convention, let them come.” His final example, aside from the Latinos (complete with Univision translators!), Asians and gays: Old-school Democratic infiltrator Bob Mullholland has registered to attend, like he does every year. Standriff also expects some “small-business owners” to cross the party line.

L.A. Live “should be standing-room only,” he says. So, be forewarned: If you're anywhere near Olympic and Figueroa, and you're feeling that a rather otherworldly change has come over this city, it's probably because you'll be in the presence of at least a dozen elephantfolk at any given moment.

But we dare you, in light of the GOP's newfound bleeding heart (slash desperate attempt to woo the booming minority voter base): Hug a Republican this weekend. It could do your country good.


LA Weekly