Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Anti-Surprise

All day, we had been hearing rumors that Barack Obama would make an appearance at the convention tonight. So when he strolled out onto the stage, I can't say I was really surprised. Please, thrilled, excited, yes. Surprised? No.

The excitement and energy of Obama's appearance was exactly what this convention night needed, though. While Bill Clinton and John Kerry made very good speeches tonight and the overall energy in the hall was good, the Biden speech was a bit of a low point. Yes, he was strong on the issues, but he sort of lost the crowd when he went into foreign policy territory, only regaining them when he started doing what VPs are supposed to do: hit at the other candidate. The end of his speech did not create the sort of raucous convention hall environment that we certainly saw last night. Having Obama arrive, however, put the mildly energetic crowd into a frenzy and left everyone nigh foaming at the mouth for tomorrow night. Invesco should be a roaring good time.

DNC Convention - Joe Biden

DNC Convention - John Kerry

This floor is packed. Senator Kerry is speaking

Sent from my iPhone

Hillary Clinton Suspended Voting; Nominated Barack Obama President - Video

This is a live capture video of Senator Hillary Clinton's dramatic entrance into the convention floor and with Representative Charlie Rangel and Governor David Patterson. The state-by-state voting was suspended and Senator Barack Obama is now officially the Democratic Nominee for President of The United States.

New Hampshire and New Jersey follow Clinton's call

The New Hampshire chair stood up and said that they were following Clinton's call and casting all of their 30 votes for Obama.

New Jersey stood up next and unanimously cast all of their votes for Obama to huge, raucous cheers in the hall. Z's gonna vlog on this ... watch for it.

Roll Call Voting In Process

It's 4:25 pm and we're in the blogger suite watching the roll call vote. We arrived after the vote began, but so far, the Michigan delegation has received the largest ovation. After all of the issues with seating MI delegates, they cast 125 votes to Obama and 27 to Clinton, with 5 not voting. We missed the FL vote. Darn.

Each state chair is giving proud facts about his or her state before they cast their vote. We're hearing about state hockey champs, which Senators were born where, etc. The floor is bustling and the blogger section is getting full. Thus far, there doesn't seem to be any real dissention, no fighting, etc. Votes are being cast for Obama and for Clinton without drama, except the excitement of nominating the next President of the United States. We heard earlier that the Clinton folks were trying to figure out a way to shut down the roll call vote in order to hold her voting in check and avoid any floor fireworks, but they apparently either decided not to or couldn't get the rules worked out.

As the voting closes and we get a final tally, I'll blog again. This is fun, y'all. Wish you were here.

A view from a cab - DNC Convention

I mentioned earlier that all of the cab drivers I've dealt with here have been fantastic. One of them was so interesting that I had to interview him on the spot. His name is Tawir Tawir and if I hadn't lost my cell phone, I'd have a great picture of him to show you. Tawir is a 40 year old man from the Sudan and he's been in the US for seven years. He's applied for US citizenship, but three years later, he's on his second fingerprint check. His name and the fact that he's a Muslim put him in a position to make immigration much more difficult.

Here's a recap of our conversation:

Ash: How do you feel, overall, about Obama and McCain?

Tawir: I like Obama, not because he's black like me, but because he means change. McCain just wants war, he will go into Iran, and make things worse.

Ash: Since you're a Muslim, how do you feel about Americans fearing that Obama might be a Muslim, when we know he's a Christian? Why do you think that's such an issue?

Tawir: Americans are scared of Muslims because of Osama bin Laden. The Jewish people fought Muslims for a long time and bin Laden gave them a chance to bring their fight into the open in the US. Israeli groups control the media in this country and that perpetuates the anti-Muslim feelings and that led us to Iraq. Or at least that's how I feel.

Ash: You're from the Sudan. Talk to me about the situation there.

Tawir: Darfur is Muslim, but this is not about religion. The government situation in the Sudan is not fair. There needs to be more in the Senate from Darfur. All politicians are from the Northern part of the Sudan. Americans are paying attention to the Sudan, but only to the Southern part and they are ignoring the Eastern and Western parts. The Northern part gets all of the politicans; the Presidents all come from the North.

There is a lot of oil in Darfur right now and that's why Americans are so interested in helping out. The Chinese control the oil in Darfur right now, but the Chinese people aren't interested in helping out the Sudanese people, only serving the government. The people do not get the money and the government does not spend the money on things the people need, like roads and schools, but only build themselves bigger buildings.

That pretty much concluded our interview, with just a short discussion of the party he had attended the night before for the Sudanese President, who is in town during the Convention. Apparenlty, there is a decent size Sudanese community here in Denver.

Tawir says that he will absolutely vote when he gets his citizenship. If he could vote in this election, he would cast that vote for Barack Obama.

No way Hillary hit a home run with her speech. No how!

DNC, DenverIf you've heard that used as a metaphor for Senator Clinton's speech on August 26th in Denver, you've been misled (as so often happens with metaphors) and the Senator from New York's been done a disservice. While pundits love sports metaphors, and admittedly America loves a home run, in the rarefied, thin air last night what Hillary engineered and delivered was much, much more.

I spent the evening in one of the 30 precious seats reserved inside the arena for bloggers approved and credentialed though the Democratic National Committee. Not great seats, bloggers are not by any means treated with the same respect as established commercial media, and our access is controlled by well-meaning volunteers who don't seem to have the same answer one moment to the next, but one can measure and sense the crowd - and this crowd was ready for Hillary's night in the spotlight.

On the heels of a moment of silence for recently deceased U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and a review of other friends no longer with us, from Ladybird Johnson to Shirley Chisolm, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont took the stage and started the process of looking forward. "From the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, to the Green Mountains of Vermont," the man who lives at the end of a dirt road in a community of fewer than 2000 people, the Senator who clearly understands what it means that 8 million rural Americans now live in poverty told us he's ready for the United States to "turn the page."

The crowd was totally involved and excited a short while later when Congressman Dennis Kucinich, earlier a candidate for the very nomination the Democrats are gathered in Denver to proclaim this month, talked about the reality of not moving the country from right to left (as political pundits tend to opine in sound-bites,) but rather from down to up. Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, after reminding us that he'd been in the Peace Corps himself decades previously, said his family had endorsed Senator Obama, "about five minutes in to the keynote speech in 2004." He called on the country to "Revive the spirit of [President John F.] Kennedy."

Steny Hoyer of Maryland listed the accomplishments that Democrats could take credit for with even the narrow majorities they'd attained in the U.S. House and Senate in the previous election, despite the fact that Senate Republicans remain in a position to frustrate progress. Janet Napolitano struggled to avoid berating McCain, but she did find that she could say something positive when McCain talked about the economy - she's "positive he doesn't understand the economy." McCain signKathleen Sebelius advanced that point, noting that McCain favors renewing the Bush~Cheney agenda for another four years. Signs waved, and the increasingly packed house was full of a sense of anticipation during a series of well-crafted speeches. Massachusetts Governor Devall Patrick, noted for his association with Senator Obama, cited the progress his family had made in just one generation rising from such poverty that he didn't recall ever even owning a book as a child on the south side of Chicago. He segued into testimony for Obama's commitment to education, and fiscal responsibility to contrast and repair the effects of the largest expansion in Federal Government paired to the largest run-up of the Federal Debt in history under the present administration.

Perhaps the real high point before Senator Clinton took the stage was the animated, crowd-pleasing performance by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, clearly enjoying his rapport as the crowd responded with enthusiasm, at times chanting, "Four more months" to describe their readiness to see new faces in the White House. The excitement mounted amid rumors that the Denver Fire Marshall had decided to close the floor...

Then along came Hillary, greeted with thunderous applause and a sea of white banners bearing just her first name.

No way; no how; no McCain!

Senator Clinton's much anticipated speech was much more than a home run. Not only did she touch all the points that analysts told us she needed to as part of healing the rifts, she crafted and delivered a masterful endorsement built to make it clear to those who aren't fully behind Obama's candidacy that not only is she herself committed to getting him elected, but she expects them to participate whole-heartedly as well. Hillary reminded the delegates - and her supporters not present in Denver - that too much is at stake, from health care to basic human rights, to let this moment pass. A home run is a single moment that comes together serendipitously, often unexpectedly. Hillary Clinton built and unveiled an epic monument to the power of a unified party to change the course of the United States of America.

Senator Clinton's endoresement of Barack Obama

Watch the speech

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