PHILADELPHIA–Noticeably absent this week from the Republican media extravaganza were the party’s most powerful women, senators Susan M. Collins and Olympia J. Snowe–both from Maine–and Texan Kay Bailey Hutchison. All three call themselves pro-choice, a position not tolerated by Republican Party leaders.

Given no opportunity to shine in prime time by the Bush campaign and having no power lunches scheduled, the three spent Wednesday noon at a Rittenhouse Square book store, signing copies of “Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate.” Which is about how many people stood in line to meet them.