The Republican National Convention stage in St. Paul is a stark contrast to the lavish opulence of the two stages the Democrats set up in Denver.
By contrast, the Republican stage is a study in minimalism. It consists of a simple podium, only four feet above the convention floor, backed by a 50 ft. by 30 ft. video board. Asked about the contrast between the Republicans' set and the Democrats', Matt Burns, Director of Communications for the 2008 Republican National Convention, said that the simple design was not a deliberate attempt to contrast the Democrats. Burns said that the stage was designed to fit the personality of the party's nominee, Sen. John McCain.
"The stage reflects the humble nature of our nominee and puts him where he is most comfortable, close to the people."
Mr. Burns said that the stage is meant to evoke Sen. McCain's town hall meetings...
And National Journal:
If the Democrats' whiz-bang stage in Denver screamed American Idol, the Republicans' streamlined set in Minneapolis-St. Paul whispers American Bandstand. From a simple black platform just four feet off the ground, convention speakers will look out on a sea of delegates in red folding chairs that sit squarely on the arena's concrete floor. A single television screen behind the speakers will carry their faces to the nosebleed seats above, while black drapes behind the screen conceal the backstage area.
The sedate, almost plain $1 million podium was conceived of long before the Democrats unveiled their bells and whistles in Denver. Built in just six weeks atop the Xcel Energy Center's hockey rink, the podium is designed to focus attention on the candidate's message, said David Nash, the convention's executive producer. "With the economy the way it is, we thought it should be simple," said Nash. "It's not the time to be lavish, not when people are losing their homes."
The low, unencumbered platform will also bring John McCain closer to the crowd in a structure reminiscent of the town-hall meetings he has used, to general acclaim, on his campaign stops. Much as the in-the-round stage on the final night of the 2004 GOP convention made Bush's speech a relatively intimate affair, the 2008 stage gives McCain and the delegates a direct sense of each other. "You're just not going to have a lot of distractions," said Maria Cino, the president and CEO of the convention. "What you see is what you get."