Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DNC in Denver -- Day Two


Monday, August 25, 2008.

We start our day at the Ohio delegation breakfast. With more than 160 members, we're one of the largest delegations at the convention and one of the most high profile based on Ohio's importance to any presidential campaign.

The daily breakfast meetings are a forum for speakers, a point of information distribution, and the place that daily credentials are distributed. Delegate credentials and guest floor and hall passes are the currency for the week. As a DNC member, I’m fortunate to receive a daily guest pass that my niece, Sarah, can use to accompany me to the convention hall.

Chris Redfern, ODP chair, started the meeting with a sharp reprimand to all present, warning against tardiness. He may not accept it, but he's engaged in a futile effort. These folks will do what they want.

Rather than sit in the enclosed and dark auditorium, we took our plates onto the balcony. Governor Strickland and his wife did the same. Sarah introduced herself to Ted and reminded him when, as a Congressman, he gave her, her father, brother and me a tour of the Capitol and took us to lunch. I was glad to see Frances and she was absolutely gracious, as always. Sarah met any number of elected officials and got some photos. That smile of hers really makes an impression!

Then it was off to the Hyatt Regency for the AFSCME caucus. The Hyatt is huge hotel with some unusual sculptures in the lobby. There was McEntee with his daily hat, the cardboard cutouts of our adversaries, and the red meat speeches. My anxiety level was through the roof as this would the most likely place for me to encounter the people with whom I parted ways when I retired.

I saw McEntee's assistant, Lee Saunders, at the side of the room and walked up to him. We had a short conversation about the consequences for AFSCME of Hillary's defeat and the union's plans for the presidential campaign. Some of the Council 8 staff, excluding those with whom I had differences, came up to say hello and say they missed me and other kind words. Very emotional.

That afternoon we visited the Denver Art Museum which offered free admission to conventioneers. Very good museum collection and extraordinary building to house it. The wing designed by architect Daniel Libeskind is striking. There are a number of outdoor sculptures that complement the building and its grounds. (I'll post my photos of some of the artworks from the museum's exhibitions as a separate album from the one that illustrates this blog.)

We walked back to the hotel past the outdoor civic center and more demonstrators. I went to a round table discussion for progressive authors and got to see up close a number of the people I read on a regular basis.

Next it was the shuttle to the convention -- gridlocked streets made for a long trip. Once we got there, entrance security was very efficient. It's always a special feeling to walk up to the convention venue for the first time. The huge building, the crowds, the noise, the costumes, the excitement -- you can't help but get a rush. This time there's an extra frisson coming from the history making aspect of this event.

Inside I made my way to Section 122. Uh oh! Ohio is not a favored state for this meeting. In the past, we've always been in the sections close to and a little right (appropriate for Ohio) of the podium. Now we are in the back sections. Good thing I brought binoculars. It's 5:50 P.M. and I find one seat in the delegation area. Sarah texts me that she is in the nosebleed section facing the back of the hall. Word runs through the crowd that Ted Kennedy will speak. I decide if she's going to get on the floor it better be now so we meet and I give her my credential. She gets in about midway through Kennedy's speech and in time for Michelle Obama's. Meanwhile, I cruise the crowded hall, see a couple of celebs, and then find a wide screen TV to watch the speech. She was great and I ran out of Kleenex. Two tear jerkers in one night plus the AFSCME experience -- I’m emotionally drained.

LONG time to get back to the hotel. There were post-convention parties but we opted for some horizontal sleep time. Sarah loved the experience. And, the people she met loved her.

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