Thursday, August 28, 2008


I finally made it to the convention floor yesterday. Everyone by now knows what kind of night it was. There are no adjectives I could write that haven't been written. I'll leave the descriptions of the Clinton speech, the Biden speech, the Kerry speech (everyone should check it out if they haven't already) and the surprise of Obama showing up at the end to the professionals. Instead of trying to describe what it was like standing there in person, I want to tell you about events earlier in the day that may not have received the same coverage as the big speeches.

Having heard about the long lines and tight security, I decided to go when the doors opened at 3. People slowly trickled in. I found a spot behind the Illinois delegation and stood until they kicked me out. I was told to move as the delegations began to announce their votes. I eventually made my way to the Pennsylvania delegation where I found a pocket of delegates standing behind the allotted seats. I stood next to Franco Harris and behind Morgan Fairchild. She was passing her phone to Governor Ed Rendell.

Each delegation stood, in alphabetical order. The tension was palpable. The entire hall seemed to hold its breath, hoping the states wouldn't give too many votes to Clinton. Each time a delegation gave votes to Obama, an ovation would follow.

A few announcements left us scratching our heads. California, led by Barbara Boxer passed. As did Mayor Daley and the Illinois delegation. We had heard rumors that the counting of the votes would end with New York, but I, at least, didn't know how that was going to happen.

By the time New Mexico announced, the Pennsylvanians started to stir, knowing their time was coming. New Mexico decided to give its votes to Illinois, the home state of Obama. Daley grabbed the mic again and announced that he was transferring the Prairie State's votes to the home state of Senator Clinton.

The cameras shifted to New York, and a roar went out as Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Charles Rangel appeared on the Pepsi Center screens. Clinton asked that Obama be named the nominee by acclamation. The place went crazy. The photo above is of Rendell grabbing the Pennsylvania post and shaking it as hard as he could. Someone nearby him said, "Governor, they're not going to count our votes." Rendell turned and said, "I don't think anyone gives a shit."

It was the most amazing moment of the day, as far as I'm concerned. I haven't had much exposure to the media since I've been here, but I'm assuming this moment has not received the coverage it deserves. If you missed it, check out the video here:

Kumar works the convention

I don't know why he was there, but he was. He told me to keep walking.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"She did it"

Day 2 was much like Day 1. I went from event to event -- some boring, some impossible to get into, some thrilling -- but mostly I spent the day waiting for the night. Late in the afternoon, I went to the Illinois delegate party, hosted by Mayor Daley. There were aldermen, state senators and the first appearance by the disgraced governor. Michelle Obama was there, too.

Following the event, and after failing to get a credential to be on the floor for Clinton's speech, I went back to a hotel to watch with a crowd. Judging from the few comments I've heard by the talking heads, the speech was as well received nationally as it was in the hotel lobby.

People were talking loudly during Warner's and Schweitzer's speeches -- which was too bad because from what I could hear, they were nearly as impressive as Clinton -- but when Chelsea took the microphone the noise stopped. From the first words, it was clear what the speech was going to do -- halt, at least until Bill talks tonight, the sense that the Clintons aren't on board. She ran off a list of things she was proud to be -- a mother, a Senator from New York -- and crescendoed to set the stage for the rest of the speech -- "And I am proud to support Barack Obama as president of the United States." She hit every note. And when she finished, the table next to me hollered, "She did it."

I've heard a few pundits say she was setting herself up for 2012 and the Republican talking point is that she didn't sell Obama as a candidate. The skepticism and criticism was inevitable. The golden rule in political coverage seems to be that the Clintons never do enough. The psycho-babble will only increase tonight. But there was no doubt in my mind that she is on board.

Sign of the day

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"A hunger for change"

It's taken me some time to find a computer, but I finally found one for free at the Curtis Hotel. It's been an amazing experience so far, and I'm sure it's only going to get better. From the moment I got on the plane, I was in the middle of it all. Rahm Emanuel was sitting in first class and I shared a cab with the wife of Obama's finance chair leaving the airport in Denver.

The scene is about what you'd expect -- protesters, pins and political slogans everywhere. I walked down 16th St. to get a bite to eat and was confronted by three loud men shouting about the sins of homosexuality. Minutes later Medea Benjamin and the rest of her Code Pink posse rang their bells as they biked past.

But so much of the media's attention is on the Clinton factor. Indeed, their presence was felt, too, but hardly as strong as the network news would have you believe. There is a group here called PUMA -- Party Unity My Ass -- that is small, but loud. There were five PUMAs walking down the street wearing Hillary shirts and shouting, "Count every vote," "This is about democracy." Those five attention seekers were getting what they wanted; they were surrounded by six different cameras.

There was the expected sight-seeing too. I passed Reps. Charles Rangel and Gwen Moore. I saw Tammy Duckworth and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Everyone's here, walking from panel discussions or lunches or delegation parties.

The real fun, though, started when the sun went down. I was not able to grab a credential to the convention, so I went to the Mariott to watch the speeches in the lobby. I was met by a room full of others who were not able to make it into then Pepsi Center. And while I was not there to hear the roar when Kennedy walked out, it couldn't have been much louder than it was in the hotel lobby. I could not see Maria Shriver wipe tears away in person, but I witnessed others cry.

The Kennedy speech was so inspiring that I almost forgot Michelle Obama was yet to come. By the time her brother finished with her introduction, though, everyone was ready. Her pauses were met with applause, her statements with hoots and hollers. She spoke of the country's "hunger for change," and you could feel that hunger throughout the room. When she finished everyone stood in their seats because they couldn't contain their excitement.

After the speech, I went to a party held by Richard Durbin and Emanuel. Both were there, as was Al Franken, Sens. Bob Casey and Amy Klobuchar. But none of that starpower matched the two minutes when Michelle Obama walked onto the tiny stage and spoke for two minutes, thanking the crowd and the crowd's hosts.

Note: I have taken several other pictures with my phone since arriving, but am experiencing technical difficulties. I will try to upload them later. Be sure to check back.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Convention bound

Tomorrow is the one-month mark since I last wrote. Some interesting things in the political world, as well as in my life (more dog pictures) have happened. I'm not going to attempt to catch up. Instead, I'll pretend the absence never happened and pick up where I left off.

I choose tomorrow because I am leaving for Denver to go to the convention. I will not have a computer, so I'm not sure what my access will be, but every opportunity I have with an internet connection will be spent blogging. I'm looking forward to it and to writing about it, so please check back in.