There is growing talk, if not a groundswell, for conducting American Presidential elections by a national popular vote count instead of by awarding varying number of electoral votes assigned to each individual state. The current campaign strategy to target only “battleground states” has left much of America in the cheap seats in terms of candidate appearances. While Richard Nixon fulfilled his pledge in 1960 to campaign in all 50 states, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in 2012 campaigned in only 12 because the others were considered “unwinnable” by either party or offered too few “electoral votes.” An election determined by total votes instead would mean every vote cast everywhere would count – making every state, even the “flyovers,” in play. Candidates would happily once again get to make festive summer and autumn appearances in some of these currently ignored but nevertheless great locations still popular with tourists. If I were campaigning, here are the “red and blue states” I would make selfish stops in:
- Northern California’s Sonoma and Napa for the annual “crush,” the season in which you can smell the grapes in the air as the annual vintage is harvested by the wine industry at their countless, scenic vineyards. Wineries such as Frog’s Leap and Darioush offer colorful and dramatic settings for tours and tastings near the Silverado Resort and Spa and its’ two Johnny Miller-owned PGA Tour event golf courses…right in the middle of wine country just an hour from San Francisco. Maybe my clout as a candidate would get me into Chef Thomas Keller’s acclaimed “French Laundry” restaurant in Yountville…but I doubt it.
- The Big Island of Hawaii’s Four Seasons Hualalai Resort is a place most people go to for its’ natural solitude rather than to look for votes, but the close proximity to the airport on the Kona Coast gets visitors quickly into “island time” – whether they’re up for snorkeling or down for a Kona coffee mocha scrub in the spa followed by a romantic ocean sunset in the sand. Hualalai is pure luxury in the lava, and the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course on property was good enough for the “Golden Bear’s” friend and rival Arnold Palmer, who got married at the course. Since I’d be in the Aloha spirit, I’d fly over to the island of Kauai, where I’d make whistle stops at the St. Regis Princeville; the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa; and the Kauai Marriott Resort, each of which have their own oceanfront charms in the way of expansive swimming pools, waterfalls, gardens, golf courses, and gourmet luaus.
- Park City, Utah, site of the Olympic-pedigreed, finely-groomed Deer Valley Ski Resort (no snowboarders allowed), and one of former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s homes. Hollywood star and activist Robert Redford, on the other side of Mitt’s political coin, owns a ski resort on the other side of the range called “Sundance,” for which the famed film festival is named.
- Since Illinois would be fair game, it would be fun to take a trip up to “Tilt” – the “Chicago 360” attraction high atop the iconic Hancock Building and, so I wouldn’t lose my lunch up there, I’d afterward head straight down to lunch at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab Restaurant – including the historic, Miami Beach-born key lime pie desert.
I’d likely not win the election, but I’d sure campaign in style!
Travel Writer Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at MShiels@aol.com His radio program may be heard weekday mornings on 92.1 FM. His latest book is “I Call Him Mr. President – Stories of Fishing, Golf and Life with my Friend George H.W. Bush”