DENVER -- One of the weirder soirees in the offing last night would have to be the Republican National Committee's cocktail party for Hillary Clinton supporters.
While Michelle Obama (re-)introduced herself to America and Senator Edward M. Kennedy electrified the Pepsi Center, a mile or so away at the Paramount Cafe, a loud rock-and-roll bar in a rehabbed 1920s movie theater, college Republicans talked over chips and beer with the disaffected Democrats who call themselves PUMAs (for either Party Unity My A-- or People United Means Action.)
This was the latest attempt by the GOP to call attention to, and if possible exacerbate, the divisions within the Democratic Party; earlier Monday, John McCain's campaign released a TV ad featuring a former Clinton delegate talking about how she'd decided to vote Republican, "a first for me."
Over the deafening music and chatter in the packed bar, the clusters of clean-cut college kids, exhausted from a long day door-knocking and sign waving, did not, in truth, do much mixing with the PUMA crowd, many of whom were old enough to be the young conservatives' mothers.
But a few did.
As big TV across the room showed Michelle Obama speaking on the convention floor, two young women and a young man from the College Republicans stood next to a couple of middle-aged women from Wichita. The Democrats were doing most of the talking.
"I know he's a maverick," Nancy Armstrong, a 48-year-old retired Navy veteran, was saying to the young Republicans, who nodded politely. "I know he works across the aisle, and I particularly liked his immigration bill."
"We may not agree on everything, But John McCain is a man of integrity, and I can't say that about Barack Obama," said her friend, Shannon Scholler, 53, who works for a social service referral agency.
They posed for a picture with the young Republican man, who was not allowed to give his name to the press. He gave Armstrong a warm hug.
Armstrong suggested they open a McCain office in Wichita. One of the young women checked her Blackberry to see if they needed one there.
Asked if he would vote for Hillary Clinton if his primary candidate had not won, the young man considered.
"You have to vote your conscience," he offered.
A few seemed capable of appreciating the irony of the spectacle, considering that the GOP spent most of the 1990s villifying the Clintons and that many conservatives wanted nothing more than to run against her this fall.
Jessi Cleaver, a 35-year-old software tester and Clinton supporter from New York City, said it just shows how furious Clintonites are about how the Democrats and Obama handled the primary.
"You know what?" she said. "The one who should be throwing the party is Obama."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.