A Kansas farm wife has three minutes to talk to delegates at next week’s Republican National Convention about issues in rural development and agriculture. Carolyn Dunn of St. John was recommended as someone who could speak about farming in broader terms than farm subsidies by Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), for whom she worked nearly a decade ago.


A Kansas farm wife has three minutes to talk to delegates at next week’s Republican National Convention about issues in rural development and agriculture. Carolyn Dunn of St. John was recommended as someone who could speak about farming in broader terms than farm subsidies by Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), for whom she worked nearly a decade ago.

The challenge will be picking the most important issues relating to rural development and condensing her ideas, Dunn said. She could speak about the potential for reversing out-migration — this area has lost 10 percent of its population in the last 10 years. She could talk about the “regulatory regime we could probably expect from a Democratic administration.” The U.S. was once energy self sufficient, she said. Over time, the energy industry has been largely exported to other countries. The same thing could happen to agriculture — there are plenty of opportunities in places like Brazil if regulations make farming to difficult in this country.
“I can’t talk about everything that is important,” she acknowledged.

A speechwriter who has volunteered his time to the campaign of John McCain, the presumptive nominee for president, has been assigned to Dunn. Contact has not yet been made; she isn’t sure if the speechwriter will serve as a sounding board or take a more active role.

She and husband Brian will fly to Minneapolis on Labor Day and on Tuesday she will work with speech coaches, “finessing my delivery,” and practice working with a teleprompter.

Dunn’s speech, along with 10 or 12 others, is scheduled for the 7 o’clock hour Tuesday evening. She doesn’t expect the major networks to give her much attention. While watching bits of the Democratic National Convention this week, she has noted that networks “cut out to pundits who give their analyses while people like me are speaking.” The best chance to see her will be on C-SPAN, which is providing complete convention coverage.

After graduating from Kansas State University, Dunn, who was single at the time, worked in Washington, D.C., for then-Representative Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the House agriculture committee in charge of drafting the farm bill. She was later an agriculture and transportation assistant to Brownback. She also helped at the 1996 Republican convention when Sen. Bob Dole was the presidential nominee.

Dunn returned to Kansas in 1999 and married Brian Dunn in 2000. She is on the board of directors for the Golden Belt Community Foundation and was a facilitator for the development of its leadership program. She and her husband are both involved with Farm Bureau, which she said “is taking on the whole rural development issue,” including youth retention, wealth retention, leadership and entrepreneurship.

Dunn has maintained contact with the Kansas delegation in Washington, D.C. — Rep. Jerry Moran, along with Brownback and Roberts may contact her when they’re planning a listening tour to the area to check on dates or the possibility of correlating with other events, she said. The invitation to speak at the convention, however, “came out of the blue.”