Live from the Democratic Convention
_Editor's Note: Tess Banion, left, is one of three local delegates to the Democratic National Convention who will be blogging at LJWorld.com. Check back regularly to see what they're saying._As I sat on the floor of Invesco Field, I was overwhelmed with an incredible sense of pride. All these people coming together to participate in our great democracy. The place was packed and I felt very small. Stars filled the sky and an African American man would lead our party - beautiful. What a great anniversary present for those people who can remember the Martin Luther King Jr. speech on the Washington Mall. I was a young woman just like Corrie and Clarissa (Obama delegates) when King made that speech. At the time I never doubted that one day we would reach the mountain top, where a man would be judged by the content of his character not the color of his skin. I was young and only knew what was in my heart.Obama was as good as expected. He hit all the right notes and made his case for the presidency. I think the word to describe his speech is brilliant. What was clear to me was that he would not allow the Republicans to define his character, thank goodness. When he said "enough" to the failed policies of the Republicans I jumped to my feet. It was perfect word for me. America has had enough. Denver did a great job. The people here are friendly. It was an experience of a lifetime and I was privileged to be a part of it. However, in a word, enough. It's time to go home to the best city in the world.
_Paul Davis is one of three Lawrence delegates to the Democratic National Convention who will be blogging on LJWorld.com. Check back often to see what they're saying.>_I've never seen anything like it and probably will never again. I joined over forty Kansas delegates somewhere around the ten yard line of Invesco Field to witness what may be proclaimed as one of the most significant political speeches in our nation's history. It happened forty-five years to the day after arguably the greatest speech in American politics - given by Martin Luther King Jr.. The electricity you could feel from the crowd was unbelievable. The crowd was fired up by speeches from New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and former Vice President Al Gore before Obama's speech. Then Obama took the stage shortly after the sun went down over the Rocky Mountain range. It was truly a spectacular setting. The crowd even did "the wave" before the speech began.Unlike John Kerry's acceptance speech four years ago, Obama decided to go on the attack. He eloquently made the case for why he would be a much different president than John McCain and why McCain would simply be an extension of the Bush administration. At the end of the speech, Obama's reference to Dr. King's speech really connected with the crowd. The reaction from African-American delegates was priceless. You could see the pride and sense of fulfillment on their faces. For all the struggles that they have endured in achieving equal rights, you sensed they felt King's dream had come true. It was an evening I will never forget and a historic event I'm grateful to have experienced. Hopefully this speech will not simply be remembered for having the largest audience in political convention history, but will instead be remembered as a pivotal point in the election of Barack Obama and the changing of our nation for the better.
State Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said she won't forget U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's speech accepting the Democratic nomination or the entire closing night of the Democratic National Convention."It was electrifying," she said. And it was difficult getting to Denver's Invesco Field on Thursday, but Ballard said it was worth it.Ballard said she and several other Kansans got on the light-rail about 1:30 p.m. There were some train difficulties and they ended up walking with thousands others through parking lots and over a bridge."It was like a march," she said. Everyone was good-natured and having a good time; the crowd was diverse.By the time she got into Invesco Field and sat down, it was 6:45 p.m., Ballard said. But that didn't matter, she said. The crowd, she said, seemed to sense they were part of history."Elections should be meaningful. I certainly feel that people are really, critically engaged in this election," she said. ***Tess Banion of Lawrence was a supporter of Hillary Clinton before the convention, but is now behind Obama.She thought Obama's speech presented a lot of his ideas, but said she was most impressed with his defense of himself against Republican presidential nominee John McCain."He showed he wasn't going to get swiftboated or Kerry-ized," she said, referring to ads in the 2004 presidential election from a group called Swiftboat Veterans for Truth that attacked Democratic nominee John Kerry's Vietnam War claims.
Obama wraps it up. This speech will be analyzed for days. Lots of moving passages, lots of specifics about what he intends to do. Lots of criticism of John McCain. Fireworks, red and white streamers. I'm signing off. Enjoy the campaign.Sen. Obama couldn't get a more friendly crowd, but folks in the stadium are shouting out in agreement with him as he gets warmed up.OK, I take it back. The full text of his speech came by and it says "failed policies of George W. Bush." An earlier version of excerpts from his speech said "failed presidency."Republican John McCain supports President Bush 90 percent of the time. Obama gets big laugh saying that's "a 10 percent chance on change"McCain is probably ruing the day Phill Gramm gave the Democrats the "nation of whiners" line.I don't know if you can see this on television, but thousands of flashes are going off. The image of Obama broadcast behind him is framed by columns. Kansas gets a mention when he refers to his mother, who is "from Kansas."The prepared text of his speech refers to the "the failed presidency of George W. Bush," which seems much stronger than what he actually said, "the failed policies of George W. Bush."Foot-stomping standing ovation, chants of yes we can. obama accepts nomination at 9:14 p.m. Lawrence time.Bill Richardson's speech was almost completely different than the text of his speech that was handed out. Richardson also got the crowd stomping its feet, shaking the stadium.I thought playing "Let the Sunshine In" for Al Gore was funny. Gore got a good laugh with his "I believe in recycling, but that's ridiculous."The Jumbotron here has to be the most photographed screen in the country. It's a beautiful night, nice breeze coming through so it's starting to cool down. The stadium is still filling up.I'm sitting up in the stands behind all the big network stages on the field. I have a pretty straight view of the podium but I'm pretty far away, so most folks in my section will often turn around to look at the Jumbotron. I'm sitting between a writer for Christian Century and a correspondent for an Israeli paper.will.i.am just got the crowd going with "yes i can." CNN chief political correspondent John King loosening up behind the CNN stage by tossing a football around. Staff handing out texts of speeches. Haven't got Obama's yet and probably won't. Sun is setting and really only the east side of the stadium is still getting hit with the sun.***I have arrived at Invesco Field. Got here after standing in long line with rest of the media to get on one of the dozens of buses coming over. Thousands of people, long lines crossing bridges over highways to get over here. Inside Invesco, the Obama campaign has telephone banks set up for people to make calls as volunteers seeking help for the campaign. Long list of entertainment on tap, Stevie Wonder one of the artists.I'm filing this from down in the bowels of the stadium. Had to kind of take a space from another paper whose reporter stepped away. Once I leave here to go upstairs in the stadium, I'll probably lose my spot. The entire media circus has just picked up from the Pepsi Center and moved over here. I'll blog as developments warrant.
_Editor's Note: Tess Banion, left, is one of three local delegates to the Democratic National Convention who will be blogging at LJWorld.com. Check back regularly to see what they're saying._Wow, the last few days have been a blur. It seems like I have been in Colorado for a month. I tried to make this convention, my first, something more than just a party. The truth is I spent a lot of time walking, getting blisters and miscalculating how long it took to get from one place to the next. The anti-war march on Sunday was good but the women's equality march was a bust. I showed up with three delegates, looking like nurses searching for a hospital. I found only one woman, dressed appropriately, in white, wearing a marvelous straw hat. She was posing for pictures and didn't seem all that interested in marching anywhere. So went all my attempts at being a good delegate. What has surprised me the most is the level of law enforcement on the street and my reaction to it. I began to think about what people in the Middle East must go through every day. Police officers with guns on every corner is not a sight I would want to live with on a daily basis. One night we were near an area where a bomb threat had been called in, so we had to move. It made me think of how open our open society is and how much we take for granted. It is true that it takes great skill to deliver a speech that will be remembered beyond a week. Clearly, Hillary Clinton, gave the speech of her life. As a supporter, I was so proud. My daughter, also named Hilary and an Obama supporter, sent me a text message "Class Act" as her description of Sen. Clinton. Many of the speeches at the convention, most not seen by the public (thank goodness), are warm up drills and would not rate more than a five on a 10-point scale. Wednesday, I cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton. I knew it was a symbolic gesture. But it was an important event for me and the people that elected me to go to Denver. Three of our Clinton delegates changed their support to Obama during our time in Denver. Hillary met with her delegates and released them, they could vote for whoever they wanted. Her speech before her delegates was short but clear. She was ready to move on and she wanted us to move on with her, but she would allow us to move on our own pace. The roll call was more emotional than I had expected - the arena exploded when Hillary Clinton asked that Sen. Obama be nominated by acclamation. My friend Margie Wakefield (a Clinton delegate from Lawrence) and I cried and held each other. The journey was over. It also seemed like a great heaviness had been lifted. There will be those Clinton delegates and voters that won't support Obama but my sense is they are far fewer than the press is describing.I put on my Obama T-shirt as soon as the roll call was over.
As the Democratic National Convention nears the finish line, I'd like to share a few thoughts from covering this. In reality, it is a Media Convention, kind of like summer camp for journalists, and one of our activities is to cover this group here in town. We even wear lanyards around our neck that have access tags.There are more than 10,000 reporters here from around the world, and the spectacle of it is amazing. There are several football-field size tents outside the Pepsi Center, filled with journalists curtained off from the public, filing stories, doing research, etc.Outside, along the 16th Street Mall -- a long avenue that is blocked off to vehicular traffic except for a shuttle bus service -- there are hundreds of video crews working the street by interviewing random delegates.Inside the Pepsi Center, the media presence is even more amazing. Stages are set up on the floor for the big networks. Then there are the TV booths on the next floor. Hundreds of radio shows are working at desks in the hallways around the center.All of this to witness and report on a four-day production -- a production that is planned to the second and will end Thursday night, as we all know, with Barack Obama delivering a prime time speech.You can't help but think that if all this manpower had been devoted to investigating health care or some other important issue -- the issue would be solved.Aside from some of the depressing thoughts this can bring on, it has been inspiring to see so many young people involved -- both as delegates and in the media. I can't help but feel that there is some change in the air.It really hits you in the face when you observe thousands of people, mostly young, who are so connected to everything that is going on through whatever hand-held device they are using. Instant media. But I've also seen a lot of people trip because they weren't watching where they were going. The BlackBerries and iPods need to have some kind of radar function.Anyway, if you've been observing the convention, share your thoughts on how you think it has been going.
Obama compliments all the speakers"If I'm not mistaken Hilary Clinton rocked the house last night." Bill Clinton reminded folks what is was like to have a president "who actually puts people first."Change starts from the bottom up, he says.Now the Democratic National Convention moves to 75,000-seat Invesco Field at Mile High tomorrow. Rumors are that Bruce Springsteen will perform. Obama makes a surprise appearance. Talks about how proud he is to have the Biden family along with him on the race for the White House.I'm watching Biden's speech on big screen television. It's a much younger crowd out on the concourse hallways. They sit on the floor enrapt in the speech; photogs come by to shoot their faces.Of and on over the past two days, they have shut down the inside part of the Pepsi Center because the crowds have been over capacity.Biden is ripping into McCain. "John McCain was wrong, Barack Obama was right," gets lots of applause. Biden lauds John McCain as a friend, but criticizes the direction he wants to take the country.Biden says the American dream is slipping away; Washington is watching people get pushed down and not helping them up.Biden: "Giving up is unforgivable."Biden says his wife Jill leaves him both "breathless and speechless at the same time." She gets her own standing ovation.Anyone else notice CNN has ditched their ridiculous floor noise meter? It was never accurate.Doesn't seem to be a dry eye in the place tonight, as Del. AG Beau Biden introduces his dad, Joe Biden. CNN had a tight shot of Michelle Obama as a tear streamed down her cheek.Tom Hanks narrates a video tribute to U.S. veterans, produced by Steven Spielberg.Clinton wraps it up; adoring crowd. Lots of big applause lines."Thanks but no thanks," or "That makes two of us," he says.Now Clinton starts into the Republican administration. Workers, families, military families have all suffered over the past eight years. "What about Katrina and cronyism. My fellow Democrats, America can do better than that."Calls U.S. John McCain a good and honorable man. But he says he is wrong on the major issues of the day and promises more of the same - more tax cuts for wealthiest Americans, enriching insurance companies, foreign policy mistakes. Clinton has said it many different ways that Barack Obama is ready to be president and he will get his full support. There has been talk all through the convention that Hillary Clinton supporters were still upset but others have said that rift has been exaggerated. He says the next president will have to "rebuild the American dream and restore American leadership in the world.""Barack Obama is the man for this job," he says. On his choice of Biden, Obama "hit it out of the park."They are passing American flags around the convention center.Talks about the campaign of his wife Sen. Hillary Clinton. Getting into meat of his speech. Talks about economic problems at home and problems in international relations.Crowd, cheering and chanting won't let Bill Clinton talk. "Sit down. We got to get on with the show here," he says."I am here first to support Barack Obama and second, I'm here to warm up the crowd for Joe Biden."***I'm way up in the rafters in the Pepsi Center. As usual it is packed. Event staff just shooed everyone away who was sitting on the steps.
DENVER - Approximately 20 Kansas delegates went to a massive warehouse outside Denver to help prepare medical supplies to be shipped to impoverished areas of the world.As part of the Democratic National Convention, all state delegations were assigned a public service project.The Kansas delegates worked for about an hour, sorting medical supplies, loading trucks and moving boxes around the Project C.U.R.E. facility.Project C.U.R.E. gets unused medical supplies from hospitals, doctor's offices, and manufacturers.It sends these supplies to more than 120 countries Doug Jackson, president and chief executive officer of Project C.U.R.E., said many poor countries have such inadequate medical supplies that they re-use needles and have used cut-up tin cans to perform surgery.Jackson is trying to get more collection and distribution centers set up across the country. The group's website is [projectcure.org]. Now that we know Gov. Kathleen Sebelius won't be the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee, speculation has started about what her plans are.After working at a community service project with other Kansas delegates, Sebelius was asked if she might run for the U.S. Senate in 2010. U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., has said in the past that he won't seek re-election."I love the job I have right now," Sebelius said, adding that she is giving no thought currently to seeking a Senate seat.Sebelius said she expects former President Clinton, who will speak to the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night, will talk about the accomplishments of his eight years in office.When Clinton left office, the nation was at peace, the treasury had a surplus and the economy was in good shape, she said. "He was both business friendly but also took good care of the needs of the middle class, which right now have been neglected in this administration, and I think that is a critical message," Sebelius said. : http://www.projectcure.org
_Paul Davis is one of three Lawrence delegates to the Democratic National Convention who will be blogging on LJWorld.com. Check back often to see what they're saying.>_Next to Barack Obama, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is my favorite politician. There is something about a bolo tie, blue jeans wearing governor that you gotta love. I first heard Schweitzer speak about 18 months ago at a legislative conference. He was supposed to lead a breakout session on energy issues. Schweitzer walked in the room, sat down at a table, put his cowboy boots up on the table, took the microphone and said "folks, lets cut through the bull, I'm going to talk about what the problem is and how we're going to solve it." He then proceeded to lay out a detailed plan as to how we shift energy policy in America. That was impressive to say the least.I've heard Schweitzer speak a few other times and he always gets a crowd fired up. Tuesday night was no different. The Kansas delegates marveled as this unconventional governor got the Pepsi Center crowd to its feet and cheering with great enthusiasm. Schweitzer was clearly so excited that he departed from the script a few times to throw in another dig or two at John McCain.The Kansas delegates were also excited to hear Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' speech. Although she wasn't in the prime time TV slot, she received a very good reception from the crowd. Her line about John McCain's houses was a crowd favorite.I'm very excited to hear Joe Biden tonight. I was a little lukewarm about his selection at first, but I'm warming up to the choice. I have no doubt that he's going to go on the attack tonight and throw some good red meat to the crowd. It will also be interesting to hear from President Clinton, too. A lot has been made about his alleged "cool" relationship with Obama. I wouldn't be surprised if that is significantly assuaged tonight.
What a difference a day makes.Gov. Kathleen Sebelius spoke to the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, and vice presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., speaks Wednesday night.So now that it has been a few days since Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama picked Biden - and not Sebelius, who many thought was a top contender - the question becomes why?Some have theorized that Obama realized the public was worried about his lack of foreign policy experience, so he picked the veteran senator. Others say Sebelius wouldn't have done much for the ticket in gathering electoral votes. And some have figured that because Obama didn't pick U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., he couldn't select another woman without angering Clinton supporters. What's your take?