Atlanta may be the home for this year's Democratic National Convention, and New Orleans may host the national Republicans - but Utah will be the pretty, great site of the National Independent Candidates Convention.
"Mr. Dirt," a U.S. presidential candidate also known as Robert Earl Anderson of Magna, is organizing it. He sent invitations last week to the more than 300 independent presidential candidates registered with the Federal Elections Commission.Dirt said the convention, tentatively booked for July 5-8 at the Yarrow Hotel in Park City, should give independents a national forum to discuss their issues.
"Most of these people never have a chance to be heard on a national level. They get a little publicity from their local press. People may think what they say is great, but that's as far as it ever goes," Dirt said.
Dirt, a bearded "Mr. Clean" lookalike running to publicize the need for more recycling, said he knows how tough it is to get attention. About the only press he received came when the Salt Lake City-County Landfill refused to let him seek signatures on petitions there to allow him to appear on the Utah ballot.
Dirt said his convention will allow all candidates to speak on the first day. But delegates will then narrow the field of candidates to allow a few to discuss their views more in-depth on the second day.
The field will be narrowed even further on the third day to allow face-to-face debates. Whether the convention will actually nominate one candidate for president will be up to the delegates.
Dirt said delegates to the convention will consist of people chosen to represent various ethnic and religious groups, according to their percentage of the overall national population. He said he will invite church, ethnic and other groups to send representatives but may choose many delegates himself.
"Because we don't want them to have to travel too far, most of them (delegates) will probably be local people. But I don't have any problem inviting Hawaiians if Hawaii wants a delegate, or an Eskimo if they want representation." He said he is also inviting other candidates to suggest groups they want represented as delegates.
He said the system of narrowing the field of candidates at the convention is designed "to keep those on the far right or left from dominating it."
But he said he wants a well-known star not tied directly to politics to chair the convention.
"Maybe a Robert Redford. I like him, but not as much as Kenny Rogers." He said he has not yet talked to either about the possibility.
Dirt said the convention is designed so that he would be paid a commission for organizing it. "I have to do that because I'm not a rich man. I haven't worked at my job for the last month trying to bring this together, and I'm starting to sink financially." He is working with Aristocrat Travel to send out invitations and handle travel arrangements.
Dirt said he realizes that many candidates may not come. "Realistically, I think there will be at least 50. That's what I'm hoping. But whether there's five or 50, we'll have a convention for them."
Dirt said the name National Independent Candidates Convention was chosen because of the acronym it forms - NICC. "We want to take a NICC out of government, at least the bad stuff like corruption and officials who don't listen to the people.
"We want to send a message to the politicians of the country that there are other avenues we can take if they don't follow the will of the people. We will present alternatives."