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It might seem that all lobbyists do at the Republican National Convention is attend receptions, munching their way through mini-feasts of crab cakes, spring rolls and aged cheeses — and for the majority that is the truth. A good chunk of D.C. government relations folks won’t set foot in the secure perimeter around Madison Square Garden during the entire week, nor will they be able to count the number of open-bar events they’ve hit. But some lobbyists are maneuvering behind the scenes — holed up in the bowels of the Garden — to put on the show. They’re lucky if they see sunshine, let alone lobster-stuffed ravioli and Bombay Sapphire gin martinis. Take Cynthia Berry, for one. The partner at Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy, who once worked for Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., arrived in New York on Aug. 23 as part of the speechwriting crew. Her work space is a locker room. “I’m not sure if it’s the hockey visiting team’s or basketball or what,” she said. No matter the setting, there is work to be done. Some of the people for whom Berry pens speeches — like the trio of women who lost loved ones on Sept. 11 who spoke on Monday — do not have their own on-staff wordsmiths, so it’s up to Berry to craft their message in the allotted time. In the women’s case, “The big challenge was to help them tell their stories in under two minutes. It was a hard process.” But, Berry said, working with the women “has been the most memorable moment for me. I can’t imagine anything that will really match up to that.” With other speakers she is working with — such as presidential nephew George P. Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, and former New York Mayor Ed Koch, among others — Berry collaborates with their staffs, suggests edits and makes sure the speakers stay on theme. She also assists with benedictions and invocations. “We’re told in advance what every speaker is supposed to speak about,” she explained. And she helps them get through the teleprompter rehearsal — which often brings about edits. “During rehearsal, they stumble on some words,” said Berry. “We have to be there to rewrite that line.” If there’s a drawback to the volunteer job, aside from the 16-hour days, it’s missing all the parties to which she’s invited. “I have all these invitations — the firm is co-sponsoring several of the events — and I won’t be able to make it.” She is not stuck in her locker-room-turned-office all the time, though. Berry snagged a floor pass on Monday to watch some of her speakers live. “It’s very exciting when you see the culmination of your efforts up there on the podium,” Berry said. Editor’s note: This story is from convention coverage by Legal Times and Influence . For more information about the lobbying business, visit www.influence.biz.

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